The culture of parody musicals


Britni Dunn

Parody musicals are a new trend in pop culture that are spoofs of popular musicals, television shows, or books. These types of musicals exist simply to entertain and make light of beloved art.

One of the more talked about parody musicals is “The Office! A Musical Parody!” This new off Broadway play is generating a lot of publicity due to the fans of the hit show, “The Office.” This parody includes audience interaction and follows the story of the classic characters during a typical day at the Dunder Mifflin office. The show is expected to have quite a bit of success seeing as the creators, Bob and Tobly McSmith, recently put together the hit “Friends! The Musical Parody.” The “Friends” parody, much like “The Office” parody, is a spin off of one of the most well known television shows of all time.

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The spin off musical follows the six original characters from “Friends,” but adds quite a few musical numbers. This musical pokes fun at the show, which many people love so dearly.

One of the more controversial parody musical is a spin off of the classic book, “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which is also a recent television series on Hulu. “The Handmaid’s Tale: A Musical,” is an attempt by the writer Margaret Belsky to make light of the heavy subjects in the origin story. The new musical shifts the story from a dystopian future into a modern day story of a girl trying to survive in Brooklyn. The original story includes many dark themes such as sexual assault and the abuse of women. The musical, however, is reimagined into a less painful coming of age story in which young women lose access to their phones and modern technology. The musical has heavy feminist themes, much like the book, but this deals with the plight of women in a lighter, comedic way.

Parody musicals have received a surge of recognition and more people, University students included, are learning that they exist for satirical purposes. In regards to “The Office” as a musical, University freshman Samantha Campbell said, “The Office is meant for the screen and I do not necessarily see how the type of comedy done in the show could be portrayed through musical theatre.”

Musical theatre has been the subject of jokes since its inception, so these musical spoofs are not necessarily surprising, but can cause some uproar in the world of theatre. Johnny Rouleau, University freshman, and self proclaimed theatre lover said, “Parody musicals are not the form of theatre that was intended when musicals were created.”

No matter how silly these musicals are, it does not seem as though they will be going away anytime soon. The Handmaid’s Tale Musical recently added another showing of the performance due to popular demand, a common happening in musical parodies. This form of musical theatre is simply to make fun of pop culture, which is an activity people seem to enjoy doing.