Cast members from "50 Shades! The Musical." (Michael Brosilow/Clifford Roles)
We all pretty much knew it coming when the announcement came that 50 Shades of Grey would be turned into a movie. But a musical adaptation of the book? Now that’s something worth talking about.
With a four star rating from the Edinburgh Finge Festival, and sold out shows in both Chicago and New York, “50 Shades! The Musical – The Original Parody,” is extending its maiden tour with a run of shows at the Kirk Douglas Theater in Culver City.
The show is produced by Marshall Cordell, Albert Samuels and Emily Dorezas.
“50 Shades – The Musical” is the original parody of the best-selling novel 50 Shades of Grey. The musical is centered on a ladies book club that decides to read the steamy novel, and the hilarious absurdity that ensues.
This production, which also features Eileen, Patterson, BG Gruber, Jack Boice, Alexis Field, Sheila O’Connor, Tiffany Dissette, Caroline Reade, and Datus Puryear, has proven to be a sexy, laugh-out-loud romp that audiences wont want to miss.
In advance of the show’s opening performance this Tuesday, Living Out Loud LA had a chance to speak with actor Nick Semar, who plays an adaptation of Jose. He elaborated on how the story is put together.
“It’s different because we make fun of it,” said Semar. “We have fun with it. We poke fun at all of the terrible things that happen and then also we glorify some of the silly things that happen…the show is kind of like South Park on stage; that’s sort of the tone of this show.”
“I think it’s more comedy than it is a musical,” he added. “It’s a musical because there’s music in it, and we do follow a pretty similar story arc to a lot of musicals because it’s just a love story. But it’s a comedy first. And I think that’s one of the things that separates this show from other musicals. Our laughs per minute are at least as high shows like ‘The Producers,’ or ‘The Book of Mormon,’ or ‘Spamalot.’”
The show becomes a dramatic portrayal of the novel in all of its sexy, raunchy, S&M (sadomasochism) inspired glory, but the story is told from an interesting lense.
Semar explained, “We tell the story through three women in a book club who are reading the book and then you start to see the story that’s in the book.”
He says that this technique makes the whole experience a lot more relatable for audience members.
“Immediately,” he said, “people who come to this can connect to a real life version of somebody they know, or even somebody they are. A lot of people who come will say ‘oh I’m this book club lady, or I’m that book club lady.’”
Semar makes an interesting choice for the character of Jose, primarily because he’s a white guy.
“I am one of the whitest people you will ever meet,” Semar said of himself. “And that’s part of the fun of it too. We purposely have casting that is not exactly what you would expect.”
Semar added, “In the book, Jose’s a photographer and he’s a Latin American name. In our show, we play up the fact that you can tell that this British author (EL James) has never met a Mexican-American man for real. So we play that up and it’s a lot of fun. He’s a very silly character. He has a lot of bravado, he’s very over the top, he’s very physical with it. He’s a very physical character.”
Semar, who received his BFA in Theater Performance from Missouri State University and also studied at the iO training center in Chicago, went on to say that Jose’s character provides silliness on stage.
“He speaks in sort of a semi-Spanglish. He purposely does not have a Mexican accent, but it’s a sort of strange Latin accent; sort of an ambiguous, Latin accent. And he occasionally uses words that are not Spanish, but are a Latin language. So he’ll say ciao sometimes. It’s very silly. We play up the fact that he’s supposed to be this Latin American man but he’s also, obviously not.”
When preparing for his character, Semar made sure he knew that the part of Jose was originally the product of Twilight fan fiction.
“The book started off as Twilight fan fiction and then she re-told it to make it its own separate thing,” he said. “And so my character is almost the equivalent of the werewolf. Jose is a good friend of Hanna, the female lead. He’s a friend but he’s also hopelessly in love with her.”
Just because you haven’t read the book, it doesn’t mean you won’t necessarily get the joke.
“It’s a funny show. And whether you love the book, or you hate the book, or you’ve never read the book, there is stuff in this show that will make you laugh,” said Semar. “If you’re not a prude, you’ll really enjoy our show. Its got a party atmosphere to it. From the second you walk in, it’s kind of got a feeling or a vibe like it’s a party.”
“50 Shades! The Musical – The Original Parody” runs from February 25 – March 30 at the Kirk Douglas Theater, located at 9820 Washington Blvd. in Culver City, Calif. Tickets start at $30 and can be purchased at the Kirk Douglas box office or online on www.50ShadesMusical.com.
Marvin Vasquez and Edison Millan contributed to this story.