Playwright: Chris Grace, Zach Reino, Al Samuels and Dan Wessels. At: Apollo Theater Chicago, 2540 N. Lincoln Ave. Phone: 773-935-6100; $36-$59. Runs through: Feb. 12
Written and produced by the creative team that brought Chicago Baby Wants Candy and 50 Shades! The Musical Parody, there is now the similarly titled Thrones! The Musical Parody.
Our adventure begins in a living room where a group of friends is ready to watch HBO's season finale of Game of Thrones. When one of them reveals he has not seen a single episode of the show, the group gives him a lesson on dragons. Explaining the plot of six seasons and 40 characters proves to be a daunting task to bring poor Brad, played by Nick Druzbanski, up to speed. While this could have been an opportunity to explain a complicated HBO show to newcomers, it instead emphasizes how confusing the names and storylines have grown over the years. Audience members who are not familiar with the original hit show will most likely be frustrated, as this superfan piece is all insider jokes.
There is an immediate sense of humor to the production, even mentioning from the beginning to watch out for spoilers, although there are such long breaks between television airings I think we are safe to say the fans are caught up by now. Thrones is described as Lord of the Rings mixed with porncertainly, a valid description. Faster than you can say "Daenerys Targaryen," incest, the Red Wedding and a missing hand are all lampooned for big laughs.
The second act pumped up the volume with numbers "Something's Missing" and "Hold the Door." The singing ( of 21 songs! ) was on pitch but was mainly used as a plot device, only growing memorable towards the end, with "Sansa's Song."
A third extension is a good sign for this comedy in the hot spot where Million Dollar Quartet had such a long run. Nerds hung on every word and, obviously, got a kick out out the tongue in cheek style and clever characters. Geeked out references from Star Wars and Harry Potter worked well as jokes.
Also, thanks to some fan's fantasies we had a little man-on-man action, and a Bob Fosse-inspired song stole the show. How about updates with more queer humor? Gay characters are certainly fairly common in Game of Thrones, and would be welcomed here.
Going after author George R. R. Martin was an easy target and slowed down the show at the end. Pacing is crucial when you have a boozy audience that needs to relieve itself. Things moved slower than a White Walker in the second act at times, but finished nicely.
Overall, diehard followers of Game of Thrones have a lot to rejoice about in this perky production. There's no need to take a walk of shame home afterwards, unless this happens to be your first time in the kingdom. "Winter is coming" so get out of the house and see this comedy before it's too late. One other note: If you have to use the men's room at the theater, have patience. Where is the gender-neutral restroom, Apollo?