Photo courtesy Timothy Norris
Laughs are coming
“Game of Thrones” is reportedly not returning to HBO until 2019. That’s a long wait, but perfect timing for the creative team behind “Musical Thrones: A Parody of Ice and Fire,” which opens at the Patchogue Theatre next weekend.
Director TJ Dawe, who has worked on shows that jab at “Star Wars” and “Stranger Things,” said that the show tour, which debuted in January, has been warmly received by audiences left hanging when Season 7 ended in August. “All ‘GoT’ fans are left hanging, not knowing how it’s going to end,” Dawe said in a recent interview. “None of us know what’s going to happen.”
The TV show’s creators are rumored to be shooting three different endings, so potential leaks don’t spoil the finale. “What can we do while we wait? Watch a musical making fun of it,” Dawe said.
The musical parody, created by Jon and Al Kaplan, lovingly pokes fun at the violent, sexy TV hit with all of our favorite characters, from Jon Snow and Sansa Stark to Ser Davos and Daenerys Targaryen. The duo, based in LA, is best known for a “Silence of the Lambs” musical that ran Off-Broadway for three years, their YouTube channel Lego Lambs, and several other musical movie parodies.
The Advance caught up with the show’s director last week, just after the show closed in Orlando.
LIA: What makes a great parody?
T.J. Dawe: My favorite parodies come from people who genuinely love the source material, which doesn’t mean believing it can’t be criticized. You can point out the flaws of a movie or book or TV series, and build jokes and songs about those flaws — and still love it.
Who are some of your influences?
My biggest influences for parody are Mel Brooks and Mad Magazine. I videotaped ‘Blazing Saddles’ when I was 13, and watched it dozens of times. I read back issues of Mad Magazine from the ‘70s, devouring parodies of movies and TV shows I’d never seen, in some cases that I’d never heard of. ‘Airplane!’ and ‘The Naked Gun’ movies were brilliant, packed with gags and, most importantly, the actors played their absurd roles with utter seriousness. I advised the cast to watch ‘Airplane!’ and ‘Young Frankenstein’ in preparation for rehearsals.
Speaking of the cast, were you looking for anything in particular from the actors?
They can all sing, dance and, most importantly, they made us laugh in the auditions. Over the four days of auditions and callbacks, we saw 150 people and had them do excerpts from the script. The cast we chose all had the ability to make us laugh time and time again, with jokes we’d not only seen others do dozens of times, but that we’d seen these exact actors do multiple times. When the laughter was unanimous amongst those of us on the other side of the table, we knew someone had that comedic sparkle we wanted.
Can you tell me a little bit about the music in the show?
The music is influenced by musical theatre, but doesn’t have any of the preciousness or saccharine a lot of musical theatre does. The songs are big and outrageous, and accessible to anyone.
One of my favorite songs is ‘What About Me?’ in which minor characters who aren’t featured in our show have a verse, or sometimes less, to complain about that fact. With so many characters in the series, not everyone would be included, and I love that this is how the writers have not only acknowledged this but made a series of jokes and a great song about it.
Are you a diehard ‘GoT’ fan?
I love ‘Game of Thrones.’ It was a joy to watch the series again, as well as read the books. Watching the series gave me visuals for the many characters and locations in the books. Reading the books deepened my understanding of the characters and the world.
Any favorite characters?
One of my favorite characters in the series is Ser Davos Seaworth. He’s briefly in the show, and Christopher Karbo plays him brilliantly with a Sean Connery-esque accent.
What do you think makes ‘GoT’ such a universal hit?
For one thing, it’s unusual for fantasy to be done so well. HBO hasn’t skimped on the budget, so the world is vividly brought to life, and because it’s a series, there’s a longer amount of time to see the stories play out.
More importantly, I think ‘GoT’ is an analogy for our world right now. All good genre fiction is, really, whether it takes place in the past, the future or in some other world. The fantastical elements are a minor part of ‘GoT.’ It’s more about power and political intrigue. And ultimately I believe the White Walkers and the army of the dead are an analogy for climate change. As a vast, brutal, impersonal force threatens to literally change the climate of Westeros, making life unlivable, the people squabble and war with each other, and some outright disbelieve in the impending threat. So we’re left with two possibilities — one is to set aside our differences and work together to fight and perhaps overcome this elemental threat, and the other is to keep squabbling and warring and inevitably be destroyed altogether by the ignored greater threat. The series never makes this analogy explicit and, as far as I know, this isn’t a widely discussed or accepted interpretation, but I think it speaks to us on an unconscious level all the same.
What: A 90-minute musical parody of the HBO series
Where: Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts
When: Saturday, Feb. 17. Two shows: 7 and 9:30 p.m.
Tickets: $28 and up. Call the theatre at 631-207-1313 or visit www.patchoguetheatre.org.
Like what you have read? Click here to subscribe to the Long Island Advance so you can read more stories like this, and find out everything that’s going on in your town!