I honestly have not had this much fun (theatrically speaking) since my first Little Shop of Horrors experience up at the Mt. Pleasant Theatre in the late 80’s. Right out of the chute, the talented cast of 50 SHADES! THE MUSICAL came to play….. balls-to-the-wall!
As one of the few women on the planet who has not read the book on which this new titillating musical parody is based, I had no idea what to expect. Based on all the kerfuffle the book caused, I thought perhaps the prop-master might now be on a first-name basis with the folks at Northbound Leather, but instead of the heavy-duty S&M, B&D exploration of our sexual dark side, I found myself laughing, giggling and squirming in my seat as I recognized familiar bedroom dilemmas and choices that I, too, have had to make throughout my “active dating” years.
The show opens with 3 mini-van driving soccer moms browsing potential reading materials to while away their boring suburban lives and one particular book springs to life as they flip through the first chapter. We become the readers and soon meet the virginal, innocent and way too Katy Perry cute Anastasia Steele (played to perfection by Eileen Patterson) who is lured into the deviant clutches of one Christian Grey. Grey is played with vim, vigor and versatility by Jack Boice who should be nominated for this year’s People Magazine’s sexiest man alive! Jack is my new obsession as he studied at Fordham University (my namesake) and this fan-girl adored his all-singin’ all-dancin’ stud muffin portrayal.
Nick Semar (pictured below with Patterson) brings a new level of slitheriness to latin lover, Jose, Anastasia’s main squeeze. Semar’s comedic presence reminded me of the wonderful yet under-rated screen actor of the 1930’s, Erik Rhodes, who often played opposite Fred & Ginger – here Semar channels Rhodes’ Alberto Bedinni from Top Hat brilliantly.
The trio of soccer mums are all stand-outs, each getting a great moment to “play doctor” with the audience – big standing O to Kim David, Sheila O’Connor and Tiffany Dissette. The handsome and totally Playgirl centrefold-worthy BJ Gruber portrays Christian’s brother, Elliot Grey. He certainly raised eyebrows and temperatures each time he stepped on stage (or into the audience) with his bare torso (be still my beating cougar heart!) and the deliciousness in the barely there Spandex man slacks, Datus Puryear, danced, pirouetted and posed to a chorus of ooos and aaaahs from the appreciative audience. Caroline Reade portrays “Inner Goddess” and she, too, is a grad from Fordham U. Caroline has a distinguished background in dance and has appeared on TV dramas such as Law & Order SVU …but probably not while wearing her 50 Shades costume – a walking wardrobe malFUNction that even Madonna would envy.
With tips o’ the hat to Broadway mega-musicals Phantom & Les Miz, the team of wonderfully warped and witty writers, producers, director, musicians and choreographer have delivered a BOFFO box office hit to the Bluma Appel Theatre. 50 Shades! The Musical runs until April 13th at the Bluma Appel Theatre, 27 Front St East, Toronto, and you can find ticket info at http://www.ticketmaster.ca. Big thanks to Flip Publicity for the invitation; I look forward to going back to see the show with friends and this time, I MUST buy a pair of those souvenir pink fluffy handcuffs – my old ones broke last night after the show…..oh dear, too much information, too many shades of fun!