THE OFFICE! A MUSICAL PARODY Opens Next Week in St. Louis
Do you love The Office? Love musicals? Then do I have a show for you.
Opening on Wednesday, March 4th at The Grandel in the Grand Center Arts District of St. Louis, The Office! A Musical Parody sets out to entertain hardcore fans of the hit NBC show and casual viewers alike. The show takes place during a day in the world’s most famous televised office – but the catch is they are packing as many famous storylines as possible into the show.
Director Donald Garverick has worked with the creative team behind this show on other parodies, and he’s excited to bring the show to St. Louis this week.
“The writers of these parodies are Bob and Tobly McSmith, and the composer is Assaf Gleizner. And they’ve been doing this for over a decade at this point,” says Garverick. “I believe their first one together as a team was Full House. I wasn’t on that, but I was on shows that followed it, like 90210 – and that’s how I got pulled into this.”
You might not think a show like The Office is just waiting to be turned into a musical, but the director says there is a secret to making the adaptation work.
“What really works about their shows is that they’re parodies. And they’re not just a direct musical version of the show,” he says. “You’re seeing The Office, translated into a parody with eight actors playing all of the characters, and people changing costumes. It’s really fast and funny. It has a You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown vibe to it – if you’ve ever seen those shows, where it’s like: Setup. Punchline. And then move on to the next scene.”
The director says the show feels sort of like Laugh-In, or Saturday Night Live in regard to the format and pacing. He and the McSmith brothers worked on the script from the beginning of the creative process, but it took a few months before they got casting locked in.
“We decided to be really brave about the casting, and really think outside of the box,” says Garverick. “Especially because people are playing so many characters. You didn’t need to find an actor who looked like John Krasinski, you need to find somebody that can play that character and other characters. So it really opened up the casting for this.”
He says that in twenty-five years, this show’s casting is probably his favorite ever.
“We really saw some amazing talent, and we were able to kind of surprise people,” he says. “There were a lot of people who came in thinking they’d be auditioning for Pam, and then we’d give them the sides for Michael Scott.”
Currently, on Broadway as well as on the national tour, there are two women playing Michael: Sarah Mackenzie Baron in New York, and Emma Brock is coming to St. Louis. One reason for the gender-swapped casting has an explanation at the root of the show’s creation.
“A question that gets asked a lot is, ‘Why did you choose to do a parody of a show that’s already a satire?’ So what is the angle here? So we sat down, and it took us a while to figure it out, and I was thinking about all the ‘that’s what she said’ jokes. We’re in this #MeToo movement, and it just didn’t seem like it was going to work unless we commented or took a look at what these jokes were. And how to make them feel different.”
Garverick recognizes that you aren’t supposed to agree with Michael Scott, and that the audience wants him to learn and grow as the show goes on.
“So it was really fun in the audition process to have wildly different people audition for Michael Scott,” he says. “Nine times out of ten, it was the women who were reading.”
Both women have been in their current roles since the beginning of the show and tour.
Aside from surprising casting choices, fans of the television show can look forward to many of their favorite moments and characters to make an appearance.
“We’re wrapping as many Easter Eggs – basically a whole basket full of Easter eggs – of nine seasons into one day at work. So all the plot points happen in one day – the first act is before lunch, and the second act is after lunch. So it’s ridiculously fast; characters are introduced and then fired right away,” says Garverick.
He also says there are plenty of characters you might not expect to see – and there are a couple of really deep cuts.
“And you’ll hear all of your favorite lines. Maybe just not the way that you’ve heard them before.”