When Harris Smith heard that one of his students was going to appear off-Broadway in a new musical, he said he was surprised.
Not that Meghan Modrovsky made her way to a stage in New York City, but that she was there doing a musical.
“I didn’t realize she was a singer,” said Smith, director of the Johnny Carson School of Theatre & Film at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. “We’re in kind of a transition here. We didn’t do as many musicals before as we’re going to do now.”
Modrovsky, to be completely honest, is a little surprised, too, to be playing Arya Stark in “Game of Thrones: The Musical,” an unauthorized parody of HBO's mega-hit television show, which is scheduled to run from Oct. 10-29 at the Jerry Orbach Theater.
That’s because she wasn’t sure she had the singing chops, or more appropriately, the chops to rap to land the role.
“For my character, for Arya, I have to rap,” Modrovsky said in a phone interview prior to leaving Los Angeles for New York City. “I had to do 30 to 60 seconds of rap (for my audition). That was the biggest thing for me. I enjoy rap. I like the genre, but I had never done it in front of a living human being before.”
Now, she’s become an old pro at it.
“Her solo is kind of fun,” said Rob Burt, Modrovsky’s fiance and former artistic director at Lincoln’s Haymarket Theatre who now lives in Los Angeles. The two met while Modrovsky was a student at UNL. “It’s really cool.”
“Game of Thrones: The Musical” is the brainchild of Steven Christopher Parker and Steven Brandon. “We affectionately call them the Stevens,” Modrovsky said.
Parker is a veteran actor and producer from Colorado, whose movie credits include “Juno,” “Blades of Glory” and “Little Miss Sunshine.” He co-wrote and produced “Lost: The Musical,” which ran in Hollywood in 2014. Hailing from Australia, Brandon was a successful theater producer in Sydney, Australia, before moving to Los Angeles to pursue sitcom writing.
They enlisted the music (and parody) talents of married couple Erin Stegeman and Ace Marrero. Stegeman is the director of “Once Upon a Time: The Rock Opera,” a send-up of the popular ABC television show, which starred Marrero as Captain Hook.
“Game of Thrones: The Musical” is fashioned after the first season of the TV show, with the plot following Ned Stark as he “battles tap-dancing direwolves, an evil inbred prince and a smattering of other characters too hot and raunchy for network television.” The cast is made up of all the show's favorite characters, including Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen and Tyrion Lannister. Songs include "Be My Hand," "Dothraki Love Song" and "Heads Will Roll."
“They lampoon (the show) in a ‘Saturday Night Live’ kind of way,” Burt said. “They are still telling the story of the first season of the TV show, but it’s done with a satirical bent. And they are weirdly self aware.”
Meaning, that even though it follows the first season, the musical is peppered with references to happenings in later episodes.
“With Arya, we make a lot of faceless and the girl is no one jokes,” Modrovsky said, referencing Arya’s storyline in the series.
The musical debuted Feb. 10 at the Macha Theatre in West Hollywood. Originally slated for 20 performances, it began selling out and the run was extended to 40 performances into April.
“When we were done, we all thought, ‘That was a great run; the show is over now,’” Modrovsky said.
But it wasn’t. In July, the musical headed to Comic Con in San Diego, where it sold out eight shows over four days. Then came the news New York wanted it. The Stevens called Modrovsky to ask if she was available to reprise her role for a month in the Big Apple.
“I pretty much dropped the phone,” she said. “My heart was palpitating. I said, ‘Yes, yes please take me with you!’”
This was, after all, Modrovsky’s goal.
While at UNL, she appeared in numerous University Theatre and Theatrix productions, including “In the Next Room (or the vibrator play)” and “Middletown.” After graduating in 2014, she moved to Los Angeles for graduate school, earning her master’s degree in 2016 from the LA campus of the New York Film Academy. Her film credits include the documentary feature “The Charmed Life of John Weld” and an upcoming episode of “My Crazy Ex” on LMN.
“After I got my master’s, I figured I would start auditioning for TV and film and for theater later,” she said. “I love both equally, but this happened first.”
After learning the show was heading to New York, Modrovsky fired off an email to Smith at UNL, thanking him and the school for teaching her well. She told Smith she almost didn’t audition for the musical because she was afraid to rap in public. Now, she may be working in New York for a while. Early buzz has been good for the show.
“With the popularity of ‘Game of Thrones,’ I could see this parody becoming a cult classic in a way,” Smith said.