IFFY “Fifty Shades, The Musical”
At the Theatre with Audrey Linden
Since I did not read the book, “Fifty Shades of Grey”, I may have been at a disadvantage in seeing this musical parody. The opening night audience at the Kirk Douglas Theater was largely female with a sprinkling of husbands and a few single men. And the median age was around sixty. I took a survey in the ladies room, as to who had read the book. Most had not. One woman quipped up that she had, and she strongly recommended that I read it. Hmmmm, after seeing the musical, I am not at all sure I will. The songs were original, and were very good musically with clever lyrics, but they were definitely raunchy as was the subject matter.
This musical parody by Albert Samuels, Amanda B. Davis, Dan Wessels, Jody Shelton, Ashley Ward, and Emily Dorezas played to sold out audiences in Chicago, New York, and was a hit in the Endinburgh Fringe Festival with a four star review, despite the originality, did not work for me.
The nine member ensemble troupe did a credible job, albeit, amateurish in spots. Eileen Patterson (Anastasia Steele) has a great voice and played her part with the right amount of saucy innocence. This talented gal was a stand out. Jack Boice (Christian Grey) was perfectly gross, which he was supposed to be, Glinnis Mc Carthy (Bev/Katherine), Sheila O’ Connor (Carol), Tiffany Dissette (Pam), Nick Semar, with penciled on mustache (a very fun Jose), B. J. Gruber (Chippendale male dancer/Elliott Grey), Datus Puryear (sexy, male dancer) and the gorgeous Caroline Reade was simply fabulous as both the Inner Goddess and Dancer. The dancers mirrored the singers, and their moves were very effective.
How do you make a good musical out of what amounts to be porn? How do you incorporate words like, “your pussy or your pooch”, “don’t make love, fuck”, “face in my dick”, and a chorus of “He fucks.”? Christian Grey loves young Ana so much he says, “I want to “beat the living crap out of you.” Those who might be offended by the coarse language though couched, tongue-in-cheek, or tongue elsewhere, will not be fans of “Fifty Shades”. There was a song entitled, “How Much Can You Take?” For me, not much more. Though at my age and stage of life, I have seen and heard it all, even in an obvious parody, and this was such an obvious parody, I could not find the fun in a depraved relationship about a control freak, who wants to “fist” his love into submission. La de da.
The production values were lacking, though the direction by Albert Samuels was done at a swift pace so as to move the story along. There needed to be more done with costuming of the gals. There was no credit for the costumer, and it looked as if each girl had created her own costume. The wigs were tacky and to have one character play Katherine Cavanaugh and Bev and not change out her wig was inexcusable. The character of Bev wore a frumpy leopard shirtmaker dress and put a leopard robe over the dress to play Katherine Cavanaugh. She changed little else but her voice. For me, hat was not enough to create another character.
As the parody opened, three bored women, two housewives and a divorcee are trying to figure out what to read for their book club. It is the “one night they can feel intellectually stimulated.” They pass up Martha Stewart’s ‘Soup”, and “The Diary of Ann Frank” as "so sad ", and settle on “Fifty Shades of Grey” to the song,” Open Your Book”. Patterson did a phenomenal job as Ana in singing, “There’s A Hole Inside of Me”. This young gal has pipes! The one who is to “put a pearl deep inside her oyster” is none other than the wealthy Christian Grey, who is a control freak who cannot be touched and only wants to dominate. He had a huge……..contract for Ana to sign stating that she would submit to all of his sexual perversions.
Nick Semar, as Jose, had a fun song in his “Mi Amor”. I loved his slinky walk and bad accent. Good characterization! Christian reveals his dark side in “Red Room” with the female chorus demonstrating dildos, cuffs, etc. There were some fun lines in “This isn’t a book.” “If it were, it would be horrible.” “Things are not black and white, there are, Shades of Grey”. I left with “A Hole Inside of Me”. I expected more, “Mi Amor”.
“Fifty Shades, The Musical” is Culver City’s Kirk Douglas Theatre at 9820 Washington Bl through March 30th. There is free parking at Culver City Hall, behind the theatre with the entrance on Dusquene. For tickets and show times, call 213-972-4488 or go on line to www.50ShadesMusical.com. Tickets start at $30.
Audrey Linden is a writer, actress and singer. She can be seen in a long-running “Associated Tax Resolution” commercial, two “Little Caesars” spots, a “Teva International Pharmaceutical” short, Gene Simmons’ “Family Jewels,” “America’s Court with Judge Ross,” VHS “Tough Love 2,” “Wendy’s” etc.
Audrey teaches ON CAMERA COMMERCIAL and IMPROV COMEDY WORKSHOPS through the City of Beverly Hills. To register, call 310-285-6850. Her classes are held at 241 Moreno Dr. B.H. 90212. Her next classes start in March/April with registration in March. For more information, contact Audrey at firstname.lastname@example.org