Viva La Bush…50 Shades! The Musical Is The Ultimate Of Parodies
Fully staging a parody musical is a very difficult task for many reasons. There is a fine balance of keeping true to the source material which everyone recognizes, then tweaking that material enough to garner laughs in a new format. One of the great examples of a parody working well is Forbidden Broadway, which for decades has taken Broadway’s greatest shows and show tunes and twisting them to maniacal hilarity.
For modern day literary works, the novel, soon to be feature film 50 Shades of Grey lends itself perfectly to this parody format. For those who also want to learn what works and what doesn’t, there are two versions of this book turned musical parody that could not be more apposite. Spank, The Fifty Shades Musical Parody, which played the Royal George Theatre last year, is an insulting work which forgets all the important factors that makes a parody assessable. Then there is 50 Shades! The Musical- The Original Parody which is a sixty-nine minute, tightly woven piece written by Albert Samuels, Amanda B. Davis, Emily Dorezas, Jody Shelton and Ashley Ward, where the central theme of the novel (which is the empowerment of women) stays front and center.
50 Shades! The Musical, makes a grand return to Chicago (it played the Northlight last year) before heading to New York where is it sure to run for years. Why? Because it is a musical that knows what it is and doesn’t pretend to go beyond the realm of which the parody is intended. Add to this a toe tapping score (Albert Samuels, Amanda B. Davis, Dan Wessels, Jody Shelton & Ashley Ward) and an energetic cast that is Broadway worthy, and you have something more than just a parody, but a fully functional musical theatre piece.
50 Shades! The Musical is theatre at its purest form. There are no sets, a three piece band and a cast of nine. As in the book, 50 Shades, The Musical! works because of the way your imagination gets tapped. Of course the show would be nothing without a hunky, beefy gorgeous Christian Grey. Director Albert Samuels has certainly found the perfect embodiment of the book’s title character in the form of Chris Grace, who carries this show from start to finish. Amber Petty is the perfect parody of Anastasia Steele, who in the end, realizes that with all the machismo of Grey and his S&M antics, she is the one who is ultimately in control. That is the core of the this story as well as book, and again Mr. Samuels need to be credited for keeping that in focus.
The ensemble of 50 Shades all get their moments to shine, both vocally and comedically, including Sheila O’Connor, Glennis McCarthy, Tiffany Dissette, Nick Semar (whose Jose steals every scene he is in); BJ Gruber (a firm ass turn as Christian’s vanilla brother Elliott); Caroline Reade and Chris Sams (a ‘Fosseesque’ performer).
50 Shades! The Musical will certainly find their critics, but I for one can look beyond the surface and see the pure fun and enjoyment the audience gets out of the show. For opening night, there was not one person who didn’t leave the theatre without a smile on their face. Who could ask for anything more? Ok, well, enough of writing this review, I have to go an assemble by new sling. I hope the ceiling hooks hold up!
50 SHADES! THE MUSICAL – THE ORIGINAL PARODY plays at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place (175 E Chestnut) for one week only, Oct. 22 – 27, 2013. For more information, please visit www.BroadwayInChicago.com or www.50ShadesMusical.com. For calandar information visit www.TheatreInChicago.com