I recently received an e-mail from my friend “Rorey” telling me about something absurd called Fifty Shades! The Musical. Within minutes, I had bought tickets for both of us. You see, Rorey and I have already watched soft-core porn together by, as we thought of it at the time, supporting local theater. Last year, she took me to see The Full Monty at a local playhouse filled with local actors. What this meant, in the context of this play, is that I saw the crab cake guy from the supermarket in all of his, um, glory. For the record, shellfish is officially off the menu.
Rorey and I did not know exactly what to expect from our second foray into dubious musical theater. I knew the premise was supposed to be a book club that discusses the novel in song. I expected a bit racy, and maybe even slightly off-color dialogue, but I did not expect an entire song titled, “Fill My Hole” that was stuffed with so many double entendres, they went right into triples. Sure, the lobby had a kiosk filled with pink puffy handcuffs, a grey tie (not the one from the cover) and lipstick that you would could not apply in public without being arrested for indecent exposure, but I thought it was all in jest. Or I thought that until two actors simulated sex on top of a member of the audience. I have never, ever in my life been so excited to be in the cheap seats and far away from the stage as at the very moment in my life.
Basically, the show went back and forth between the women discussing the book, and scenes from the book itself. The show was not subtle, but it was smart. Ana was dressed all in beige. She addressed her roommate by her full name, every single time. Jose was a flamenco dancer who never stopped taking her picture and hit on her piteously. There were hot guys wearing very little clothing and a woman in little more than a corset and garters who acted as Ana’s Inner Goddess. And let me tell you, when the first hot guy came out shirtless, I was really looking forward to meeting Christian. And that is where the show was brilliant.
Christian Grey, the supposed hottest guy on the planet was played by a man who could have been Chris Farley’s long-lost twin brother. He belly hung ponderously over his pants, his shirt was too tight, his line readings were a marvel of Shatner-esque proportions, and he didn’t dance so much as flit and flitter about the stage. During one song, he donned a Borat-like swimsuit in ruby red and proceeded to prance and pounce around the stage like a drunken uncle at a wedding. It brought to mind the infamous Chris Farley/Patrick Swayze SNL sketch from the 80s where the two played Chippendales dancers. He was gloriously absurd, so anti-Christian that you were helpless to do anything but laugh. A lot. The show also threw in fantastic tributes to The Phantom of the Opera, The Mikado, Les Miserables, and in moment so bizarre that I will never, ever be able to look at light sabers the same way again, Star Wars. It also managed to skewer the basic premise of the novel over and over with Ana endlessly taking about freedom and Christian endlessly talking about fisting. Fisting. Fisting. Fisting. They used that word so much, it actually ceased to have any meaning at all.
The show is a touring production (I included the link) and I highly suggest that you go see it. Grab your best girlfriends, specifically the ones you can talk dirty with (because the other ones may actually die of shame) and make it a girl’s night out. There is one section of the show that is customized by region and while my Christian sang “I could eat you like a cheesesteak,” yours will probably sing about something different that manages to be both wildly inappropriate but also completely hysterical at the exact same time – exactly like the book!