The cast of "50 Shades! The Musical." (Ed Krieger)
“50 Shades! The Musical” opened this week, and it’s probably one of the raunchiest things that has ever happened at Kirk Douglas Theater in Culver City.
A musical parody on the novel 50 Shades of Grey, “50 Shades!” is a dramatic retelling of the kinky ‘love’ story through the lens of a few kooky middle-aged women in a book club. Somewhere between Mel Brooks and Andrew Lloyd Webber, the whole performance is one big, long, sweaty, sexy joke, and there’s not a whole lot more to it than that.
Given the source material, I’d have to say this show was pretty clever. It’s a funny take on the book, and it’s delivered by a lot of talented actors that look like they’re having a lot of fun. It’s a classic musical, both in structure and styling. But what’s really great about this “50 Shades!” show is that it is a parody, without feeling slapstick. It has a good blend of both blunt lowbrow humor and subtle highbrow humor; there’s a little something for everyone.
Aside from the hilarious, yet often sexy Eileen Patterson as Ana and hysterical Jack Boyce as Christian Grey, Nick Semar gives a convincingly comical performance playing Jose. What’s funny about this is Semar is an American playing a Latino character in the show. Though his Spanish accent might need some work, his portrayal of this romantic lover of Ana is beyond amusing. Even the way he dances and walks ignites laughs within the audience.
Wednesday night’s performance felt a bit low energy, especially in the first act. A lot of it had to do with the audience. It was a tough crowd. There were a lot of Kirk Douglas Theater season ticket holders that weren’t exactly in on the joke. Besides, it’s hard to put on a show like this for a crowd full of mostly sober people that have work in the morning.
“50 Shades!,” which runs through March 30, is best served with a few drinks in you. At the very least, you’ve got to be in the mood for something naughty. There’s mild nudity, but it’s sexy. There’s sadomasochism, but it’s darn prolific comedy at its best.
And you’ve got to be in the mood to participate, the whole audience does, otherwise the show doesn’t really work. The actors break the fourth wall here and there, either by calling out audience members or by getting the whole crowd singing along to a musically diverse set of songs with a whole lot of curse words.
It worked on Wednesday night, people were in to it. But I’ll bet that performances of “50 Shades!” on Friday and Saturday nights probably rock a lot harder. Regardless, this is a must-see theatrical piece…can’t miss it.