Sure, the news of the motion picture "Fifty Shades of Grey" moving forward with cast members has likely trickled down into the general consciousness, but was anyone else in the dark about the musical version of the bestseller?
And a satirical musical at that?
"50 Shades! The Musical," with its self-styled epitaph "The Original Parody," recently played a two-night run at the WVU Creative Arts Center; and in the aftermath of midterms, I shrugged and thought, 'Why not buy a ticket?'"
This may have been a moment in life when a pinch of prudishness could have come in handy.
Allow me this disclaimer: I laughed harder, out loud and genuinely, than I have in months. However, a good 90 percent of that laughter was prompted by shock, was paired with a need to cover my eyes and is still being completely processed in my twitching mind.
The plot strays only slightly from the well-known parameters of the novel.
Innocent college graduate meets devilishly handsome and intimidating businessman. Said businessman happens to be not only a connoisseur of the good life, but also of dominance and submission lifestyle. Said innocent questions her ability to set romance aside for something very different. There’s a bit with a helicopter and a contract and, of course, plenty of room for sequels.
The staged version adds in a layer of three women reading "Fifty Shades of Grey" rather than Martha Stewart’s tome on soup in their book club. Thus, the Anastasia and Christian story serves as a play within a play.
Get it? The musical is about the mummy porn itself and the mums who rocketed the erotic novel into selling more than 70 million copies in only a 10-month period.
The musical, which members of the comedy troupe Baby Wants Candy developed, is currently on tour in the U.S. Who knows? Maybe the Tivoli will book it for the holidays.
Probably not. However, because stranger things have certainly happened in the Scenic City, it never hurts to be prepared.
As I said, the performance elicited laughter tinged with what could be called terrified disbelief. I can only offer a glimpse at the standout moments.
—The program lies! The chiseled and smoldering actor whose picture correlates with the first male name listed in the cast is not, in fact, this production’s Christian Grey. The petite girl pictured first in the group of nine headshots is not the female lead, either.
Instead, the musical’s Anastasia emerges as a pleasant surprise: A curvaceous 20-something woman takes on the role. The male lead—that’s more of a shock, as the actor is shorter, wider and more often clad in a wrestler’s unitard. Another commentary, perhaps, on the ideal man versus an exaggerated opposite?
—With the end of the performance in sight, the musical takes the opportunity during a song about where Anastasia’s hard and soft limits might stand to wave a large white flag and give a shout-out to "Les Misérables." No joke.
—The songs of "50 Shades! The Musical" include "There’s a Hole Inside of Me," "I Don’t Make Love" and "How Much Can I Take?"
—As audience engagement is truly key and in no way awkward given the subject material, two characters whose story arc calls for them to hook up behind a Buffalo Wild Wings actually set up this scene in the audience.
Yup. Right next to, in front of and behind several people who might now feel uncomfortably close to being voyeurs.
—At one point, near the end of the musical and the rope connected to my sanity, Anastasia says, "This is real life, not a book! If it were a book, it would be terrible!"
She and the rest of the cast titter a gale of laughter, and moments later, they have broken into a gospel rendition of "There’s a Hole Inside of Me."
For better or worse, you were warned.
Because Charlie Barley Behringer could not simply disappear from Nooga.com, Mountain to Mountain will follow her and her mother's adventures, dispatch-style, in Morgantown as they tackle graduate school, first-year teaching and living in West by-God Virginia.
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