Openly gay actor explores Westeros through song
By David Dixon
George RR Martin fans can’t complain about a lack of fantasy experiences in July. Not only is season seven of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” starting July 16, but a panel on the show will be taking place at Comic-Con International on July 21.
As the annual comic festival gets underway in Downtown San Diego, the comedy, “Game of Thrones: The Musical,” will be playing at the Tenth Avenue Arts Center.
As in the television series, the story is about the different families who want to rule the fictional continent, Westeros.
Many of the major TV characters play important roles in the staging. These include the heroic Eddard Stark, the “Mother of Dragons” Daenerys Targaryen and everyone’s favorite cunningly intelligent dwarf, Tyrion Lannister, performed by openly gay actor Drew Bordeau during certain performances.
Non-viewers of the HBO series are welcome.
“A lot of people who don’t watch ‘Game of Thrones’ can’t get past learning about so many different plots and relationships,” said Stephen Parker, the popular TV show’s co-producer, co-writer and director. “This is a very fun and comedic way to learn about the world of Westeros.”
Helping theatergoers follow events is a fictitious version of Martin himself.
“He sits in the balcony and tells you what’s going on in the narrative,” Parker said.
While the plot focuses on the first 10 episodes, Parker promises that there are plenty of references to later adventures.
“We are constantly revising it based on what’s happening on television,” he said. “There are going to be rewrites after the season premiere with at least several new jokes.”
Prior to this latest spoof, Parker and his producing partner, Steven Brandon, worked on the parody, “Lost: The Musical.”
Sometime after that run, the producing duo also realized that they wanted to create a musical adaptation of the “Thrones” TV series, based on the first novel in Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” saga, also called, “A Game of Thrones”. Their collaboration led to them working with Erin Stegeman and Ace Marrero. Stegeman is the music writer, while Marrero is the music producer.
Stegeman is the music writer, while Marrero is the music producer.
In addition, they are the music directors, and are both featured in select performances. Two groups of performers, the House Targaryen cast (which is their group) and the House Lannister cast, rotate throughout the four major festival days.
Stegeman gets to be the conniving Cersei Lannister and Marrero portrays the complex Dothraki chieftain, Khal Drogo.
According to Parker, the most difficult part to cast was Tyrion, given his short height. After Bordeau’s audition, he realized that the comedic thespian would do justice to the role. Bordeau is a part of the House Lannister cast.
On another, quite random note, Parker was featured in a pilot, “Testing Bob,” with the Emmy-winning star who plays Tyrion on the small screen, Peter Dinklage.
Something that Bordeau originally wanted to avoid as Tyrion was a Dinklage impersonation.
“There is a lot of freedom in the way I can portray him,” he said. “I’m able to break the fourth wall a lot, which fits Tyrion’s rule-breaking personality.”
One of Bordeau’s favorite musical numbers is Tyrion’s song, “You Can’t Kill Me,” which pokes fun at how Tyrion’s popularity will continue to keep him on the air, even though plenty of other heroes and villains are notoriously eliminated.
As an openly gay performer in 2017, Bordeau has plenty of positive advice for LGBT artists who want to make it in the world of entertainment.
“Keep on trucking,” he said. “The world is a friendlier place with each show that I do.”
Since starting his career, Bordeau feels that more artists now are judged on quality, not sexual orientation.
“Nobody cares if you are gay, straight, or bisexual, as long as you are good,” he said. “You will make it in this industry if you remain talented and pugnacious.”
Tongue-in-cheek humor and irreverent melodies are key to what will be a highly enjoyable summer journey. Since the run is getting more publicity, let’s hope that cast members — such as Dinklage — show up for potentially hilarious visits to the Seven Kingdoms.
“Game of Thrones: The Musical” will be performed at the Tenth Avenue Arts Center, located at 930 10th Ave., Downtown, July 20-23. For tickets or more information, visit gotthemusical.com or call 818-314-0947.
—David Dixon has written reviews and features for various print and online publications. You can reach him at email@example.com.