Parody throws its 50 shades at Manila
SUBLIMINAL - Carlomar Arcangel Daoana (The Philippine Star) - January 17, 2016 - 9:00am

It was bound to happen: a parody of the runaway bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James that drove millions of people to fantasize — if not try, out of curiosity’s sake — all things sadomasochistic. Now, it’s easy to make fun of something that is overtly, earnestly dirty but 50 Shades! The Musical Parody, which comes to Manila in February, promises to up the ante, all the while delivering a good dose of hilarity and crazy fun. “We wanted it be a funny, good, heart-felt show that just happens to be super, super dirty,” says Albert Samuels, the show’s director.

The play kicks off with three women — to be played Kaitlyn Frotton and Chloe Williamson who both starred in the off-Broadway production, alongside our very own Bituin Escalante — deciding on a title they want to discuss for their book club. One suggests Cooking for One by Martha Stewart, another The Diary of Ann Frank, while the third, with a furtive, exhilarated look on her face, pulls out Fifty Shades. From there, the play launches into laugh-out-loud song-and-dance numbers and raunchy dialogue as the women explore their newfound sensual power and confidence unleashed by the book.

Aside from Bituin, the foreign cast is joined by the local theater impresarios that include Lorenz Martinez, George Sculze and Karel Marquez whose last theater outings, before she took a hiatus, were as Belle in Beauty and the Beast and as Gabrielle in High School Musical. “It’s a nice character,” Karel says of her role, Anastasia (yes, a spin-off from the book). “I still feel like a princess in the form that I sing…It’s fun.”

This time, though, the lyrics Karel sings is laden with double entendres: “There’s a hole inside of me/ A hole in the plot/ A dark, empty space/ But, who could fill my slot?” In most of the songs, however, no reading between the lines is needed such as in “Any Other Couple,” where the character avows: “We’re just like any other couple/ He loves the girl I am inside/ He tells me that I’m beautiful/ When I’m hand-cuffed and hog-tied.”

The director, who has already worked with Filipino actors for the productions staged in the States, has nothing but praise for the local crop of talents. “The voices are incredible,” he says. “They are so funny. It’s not really just a challenge, but an honor to work with such an incredible group.”

Chloe mentions how the musical, spiced up with vernacular phrases here and there, has taken on a new flavor. “I love to see new people from different backgrounds add their color to it,” she says. “It comes to life in a whole new way, and it’s fun to revisit and enjoy the show again.”

To be staged at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium in RCBC Plaza starting Feb. 12, 50 Shades! The Musical Parody, which The New York Times calls “exuberant and very entertaining,” will no doubt send the collective body temperature of the adults-only audience to a fever-pitch high. The ladies will have their eyes glued especially on the perennially-topless hunks Isaac Saleh and Chris Hodgson (who also happens to be a fashion model) as they give flesh to the imaginative yearnings and erotic fantasies of the book club members as they explore and probe deep into E.L. James’ book.

“As goofy as this book may be,” says Albert, “it really is empowering to people… Its center — as ridiculous as it is — is a really lovely love story. It’s the love story I care about, and the journey of these three women and how they will go about it and how they will affect the audience. That would be a great thing to take away from 50 Shades.”

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Tickets are now available at SM Tickets, Ticketworld and Ticketnet outlets. Only limited tickets are available so secure your tickets now. For more information about the show, visit or call (02) 470 6956.

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