To Live and Write in LA

Theater Review (LA): ‘Game of Thrones: The Musical’ – All Men Must Laugh

(First published on blogcritics.org)

There is balance in the universe. All the tears, disappointment, and tragedy you experience watching HBO’s Game of Thrones can be offset by enjoying the MACHA Theater production of Game of Thrones – the Musical. Not only did I laugh, but for the two hours of this musical romp, a happy smile never left my face.

The venue, the music, and the humor all add up to a fun and memorable evening.

The MACHA Theater

Game of Thrones

Jay Stephenson as George R. R. Martin is there to fill in the story gaps and otherwise confuse us, but in a funny way

The production takes place in the MACHA Theater, a 99-seat version of Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, located in West Hollywood. For this production, all references to its location read “West(eros) Hollywood.” There are no bad seats. You are close to the actors and at times they make their entrances through the main aisle (actually, the only aisle).

The theater lobby contains a bar for drinks and snacks, and plenty of table seating. At the snack bar, I discovered MEGA M&M’s – three times the chocolate. That was worth the trip in itself. The staff is friendly and helpful. There is also a place to take pictures in front of a step-and-repeat background should you want your friends to think you were on a red carpet somewhere. Parking, usually a challenge in this neighborhood, is available in a structure across the street.

The sound was good except for a few moments when I couldn’t hear two of the actresses, even though I was seated in the first row. I couldn’t tell what the problem was, but I expect they will get it fixed.

The Music

The music adds to the fun. It spans genres – Broadway, pop, R&B, rap, and maybe even a touch of gospel. It’s hard to keep track, as a musical number may begin in one genre, move into another, and end in a third. This sounds chaotic but it adds to the overall delightful craziness of the production.

Musically this is not South Pacific – you won’t hear soaring light opera. But you won’t care, because it keeps you laughing. One production number did remind me of the face-off between the Jets and Sharks in West Side Story.

The lyrics are clever and often hilarious. And the songs are catchy. Be careful or the next day your coworkers may catch you humming “A Dothraki Love Song” or singing “Hello from Winterfell, up here it’s cold as hell.”

You can preview or buy the soundtrack at the play’s website.

The Humor

Game of Thrones

Sansa, Katie Hotchkiss, and Arya, Meghan Modrovsky, with their buddy the tap dancing Dire Wolf

The humor works on multiple levels. Even if you haven’t seen Game of Thrones, the play will make you laugh. There are plenty of send-ups of the characters and situations from the series, but there is also non-satirical humor. Actors play off one another, such as when one says, “Get away, this is my one big solo.” There is a running joke involving the Jon Snow character that even the theater PA announcer gets in on.

The author of Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin, is also a character in the play. After the opening production number, he is placed in the balcony with an old-fashioned computer from where he adds narration and engages in repartee with some of the characters.

Fun is poked at HBO several times. One of the characters, in frustration, yells up at Martin, “What kind of TV show is this where all the good characters keep getting killed?” A chorus of characters replies, “This isn’t TV, it’s HBO.”

The funniest adaptation of a Game of Thrones character is Arya Stark, played on the night I attended by Meghan Modrovsky. (There are two different casts depending on the performance you attend.) Arya is depicted as every variation of a modern rebellious teen, appearing with whiney, hipster, and rocker personas. She even has a goth phase.

They even joke about the fact that there are so many characters in Game of Thrones that the actors in the play must perform in multiple roles. Perhaps the biggest laughs went to Chuck McLane who played King Robert, Hodor, and Sam.

And there is a Dire Wolf who tap dances and sounds like Scooby Doo. They should have given him more lines.

See it with a Dragon

Game of Thrones

Kacey Spivey as Daenerys and Ace Marrero as Drogo share “A Dothraki Love Song”

Here there be dragons. Three of them, but I’m not going to give away where they show up. You’ll enjoy it.

After the show, I spoke with people who had attended the musical but had never seen the TV, I mean, HBO version of Game of Thrones. How sad. They missed much of the humor although they did say they enjoyed themselves. The play contains references all the way to at least season five. (I haven’t watched season six yet.) If you are not yet a vicarious resident of Westeros, at a minimum you should watch season one before seeing the musical. This will introduce you to the characters and you’ll understand more of the jokes. But, hurry. Winter is coming.

Game of Thrones – The Musical premiered Presidents Day weekend and will continue at the MACHA for a 10-week run and a total of 40 performances. Showtimes are Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at a discount online or for full price at the door.

Photos by the author

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