If you can’t get enough of the Starks, Lannisters, and Targaryens on HBO’s Game of Thrones, you might be in the mood for an unauthorized parody like Shame of Thrones: The Rock Musical. Unlike the brilliant TV show, though, this Off Broadway spoof has quite low production values. It has no castles, no scenic vistas, no heads on stakes. While there are sporadic laughs, the real shame is that it isn’t funnier.
The two-hour musical doesn’t stint on cast members, of which there are 14 playing multiple roles. It does stint on musicians, however, of which there are zero. The music is recorded and sounds tinny, and there’s a bit of false advertising in the title since most of the music isn’t really rock. The songs mostly sound like wannabe Broadway tunes, with some pop and rock influences. At times, the show recalls Something Rotten or School of Rock, but it isn’t nearly as clever as either of those hit shows.
The peppiest number is “You Can’t Kill Me,” sung by Tyrion Lannister (Brad Simanski) and company near the end of Act I. One of the running gags is that Tyrion is practically the only character that won’t be killed off, since Peter Dinklage has won two Emmys playing the role. Anyone who has seen only a few early episodes of GOT should know that Shame of Thrones reveals how and when many characters will meet their grisly demise.
Predictably, there are jokes about pretentious HBO and boorish Donald Trump. Many of the jokes are obvious and not too witty. The dialogue and lyrics include plenty of swearing. “If you like CSI, then fucking go watch that show,” is a typical lyric in the climactic number “Heads Will Roll.” Steven Christopher Parker and Steven Brandon wrote the book and lyrics, with additional lyrics by Erin Stegeman, who also wrote the music alongside Peter Frintrup. Parker directed, while Stegeman, who plays Cersei Lannister, did the costumes.
One of the writers’ better ideas is to include a little audience participation. For instance, everyone is told to boo whenever the name Joffrey Catharine Baratheon (Randy Wade Kelley) is mentioned. On the other hand, the idea to open both acts with the author of the books, George R.R. Martin (Jay Stephenson), blabbing on about his work and the series falls flat.
Whenever things get especially sophomoric, you can always admire the bulging biceps of actor Anthony Nuccio, who plays Robb Stark, and wonder how many hours he spends in the gym. The other actors have occasional funny moments, but the quality of the singing is uneven. As Ned Stark, Milo Shearer boasts the best voice, the best stage presence, and the best costume.
Don’t expect much of a set. The library backdrop appears to be borrowed from Perfect Crime, the long-running whodunit that alternates in the Anne L. Bernstein Theater.
The ideal audience member for Shame of Thrones would be a twenty-something GOT fanatic who has had at least a few drinks and will laugh at every mention of Hodor (and, yes, there are many mentions of Hodor). Granted, I am not the target audience of this underwhelming parody, but I would have laughed a lot more if it were wittier.
Shame of Thrones: The Rock Musical is at the Anne L. Bernstein Theater at the Theater Center, 1627 Broadway at 50th Street, through December 30. Get tickets here.