Directed and written in part by Al Samuels, 50 Shades! The Musical essentially sets out to mock the journey of three middle-aged women as they become immersed by the erotic epidemic of E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey. Having not read the novel but in keeping with the general premise, the entertainment expectation was heightened and delivered.
For those unfamiliar with the musical’s genre, there exists one simple rule: come prepared to laugh. Specific scenes and symbolic references from the helicopter to the contracts are flamboyant, providing for utter laughter and enjoyment. The character of Christian Grey (Jack Boice) was overtly exaggerated as if playing into the satire of the novel, in addition to serving as a direct representation of Toronto’s ‘finest’ mayor, Rob Ford. Keep in mind that audiences are intended to laugh at the performance rather than with the characters. The smoldering triage of ensemble characters help support the narrative, in addition to exhibiting the wonder and beauty of the male upper physique.
With a minimal touring ensemble, the actors are hereby applauded for their efforts in maintaining utmost composure throughout the performance. The show’s best moments arrive during instances of unexpected surprise. The musical is an embellished romp; it is a complete farce about middle-aged women. One of the largest drawbacks of the parody lay in terms of the design. In summation of the design elements – there were none. Although the continuous action may seem to disguise the lack of set, lighting, and costume, and because of that, the production fell short of its potential.
While in keeping with the genre, the musical undoubtedly crossed many rhetorical boundaries throughout. For many audience members, the crass humour and clichés ignited hilarity while offending the sexually conservative, myself included. Most of the lyrics were delivered amidst vulgar gestures and innuendos that sometimes became unbearable to watch. Perhaps there are ulterior comedic techniques that can be employed while still keeping with the production’s mandate.
Nonetheless, if you are looking to spend some quality time with friends, don’t miss this opportunity to bond over wine, discourse, and frivolous laughter. While this is not a family-friendly musical, it is an entertaining adult evening you are bound not to forget.
50 Shades! The Musical plays at the Bluma Appel Theatre until April 13. Ticket prices range from $75 for the VIP Package, $52 and $39. For tickets, please call the box office at 1.855.899.7852 or visit www.ticketmaster.ca.
photo credit: Clifford Roles