‘Thrones’ musical parody a robust comical homage to HBO series

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The cast of “Thrones! The Musical Parody” at Apollo Theater. Front row: Christopher Ratliff and Victoria Olivier. Back row: Madeline Lauzon, Nick Druzbanski, Beau Nolen, Caitlyn Cerza | Photo by Michael Brosilow

If you’re waiting for the next season of HBO’s hit series “Game of Thrones” to return or —God help you — the next book in the series to actually be released, “Thrones! The Musical Parody” just might satiate your cravings.

‘THRONES! THE MUSICAL PARODY’ Recommended When: Through Jan. 15, 2017 Where: Apollo Theater Chicago, 2540 N. Lincoln Tickets: $36-$59 Info: apollochicago.com

Never has a show been taken so seriously by its legion of fans and thus more ripe for parody than “Thrones.” The 90-minute parody plunges gamely into recreating six seasons of the hit show at a breakneck speed. It’s a humor-filled spectacle that’s accessible to fans as well as those who have never seen the show.

Spencer (a big-voiced Caitlyn Cerza) has gathered all of her friends together to surprise her boyfriend Brad (Nick Druzbanski) with a “Game of Thrones” season finale viewing party. Trouble is, Brad has never seen the show. Just how he’s been able to keep this secret from Spencer is never really explained, but just go with it. This isn’t a show that asks you to think too much.

Caitlyn Cerza as Cersei Lannister in “Thrones! The Musical Parody.” | PHOTO BY MICHAEL BROSILOW

Caitlyn Cerza as Cersei Lannister in “Thrones! The Musical Parody.” | PHOTO BY MICHAEL BROSILOW

His friends are stunned. Ross (a hilarious Beau Nolen) succinctly tells Brad “if you like ‘Lord of the Rings’ and porn, you’ll love this show.” It’s the shows mix of fantasy and female flesh that keeps him tuning back in week after week.

Hayden (Madeline Lauzon who, in male drag is a dead-ringer for the villainous Joffrey) and Kelly (Victoria Olivier, a spot-on portrayal of Daenerys along with other characters) tell him they like the show because it occasionally features strong, empowered women and romance.

Tom (normally played by Christopher Ratliff, Nick Semar stepped into the role on the night I caught the show as Jon Snow, Jaime Lannister and others) is the only one who has actually read the books on which the series was based and naturally won’t shut up about it. He, too, cannot believe Brad has never seen the series.

The gang decides to re-enact the show up to the sixth season, supplementing their retelling with original songs. The most important song for Brad and audience members who are non-fans is probably “These Are All The Names” in which the cast runs down and epic list of all the important characters from six seasons. It’s a daunting list and certainly one of the biggest hurdles for those trying to jump into the show this late in the game.

Druzbanski’s Brad is a fitting surrogate for anyone who has never seen the show (or only watched it occasionally). His reaction to the act one finale “Stabbin’,” which details the carnage of “The Red Wedding,” is both howlingly funny and spot-on.

Other highlights include the ballad “You Know Nothing” sung by Ygritte (Lauzon) to a clueless Jon Snow moments before she is killed and the song and dance tune “It Tortures Me” by Ramsey (Semar) and Joffrey (Lauzon).

Nolan has the fortune of playing fan favorite Hodor and is given possibly the best song in the show, the acapella hymn “Hold the Door.” Jokes are cast aside for the song, which carries all the emotional weight as didthe episode on which the song is based. Nolen possesses an operatic tenor voice that is well-suited for the emotionally charged tune about finding the courage to protect those you care about at any cost. He knocks it out of the park.

Two “unsung hero” contributions are costumes by Amanda Gladu and props by Patrick Ham. Both take everyday objects one would find around an apartment and creatively transform them into close facsimiles of their TV counterparts. A large-scale dragon puppet fashioned out of four curtains and rods and a large golf umbrella is both ingenious and surprisingly effective.

The show probably needs to be updated at this point; the opening song references all the other quality shows you could be binge watching including “The Wire” and “The Good Wife” (both of which have ended). I was also expecting some commentary on the death and resurrection of Jon Snow (a plot point so obvious that everyone saw it coming). A second act “twist” also doesn’t work as well as it should.

Still, despite these minor flaws, “Thrones! A Musical Parody” succeeds in condensing a the megahit drama into a laugh-filled evening.

Misha Davenport is a Chicago-based freelance writer.

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