This weekend was spent loading new furniture into our house. After more than a few speedbumps (like half our couch arriving in the wrong shape and color), I was clamoring to escape for a couple hours.
SPANK! The Fifty Shades Parody at PlayhouseSquare was to the rescue.
I’ll be honest. Before the curtain went up on Sunday’s performance, I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into. I never had any huge desire to read Fifty Shades of Grey, but having worked backstage on another parody musical for two years, I have a soft spot for them.
And the one thing I learned while working on Menopause the Musical is when you stage a spoof, you have to completely give yourself over to the source material.
If the crowd at Sunday’s show was any indication, the cast of SPANK! did just that.
As soon as the house lights went down in the Hanna Theatre, the production jumped right in with a strip-tease from the male lead, Hugh Hanson (played by Gabe Bowling). There was no turning back.
Shakespeare this isn’t. But when you go to a show based on Fifty Shades of Grey, you’re not expecting that. What you can expect is plenty of sex and laughs – SPANK! didn’t disappoint with many a’ double entendre plus some not as subtle visuals.
SPANK! also mined its fair share of humor from the book’s ridiculous characters and moments. It helps if you’ve read the book (or in my case, Wikipedia’s plot summary). Otherwise, you may not believe some of the parody’s references were actually written.
The sight gags were well-complemented by audience interaction and song parodies (this theatre nerd liked the unexpected choice of Into the Woods’ I Know Things Now for one of the melodies).
The only complaint I had was a handful of offbeat light and sound cues throwing off the show’s pacing. In particular, there were a few moments right at the end of scenes where a late light cue kept a joke from popping as much.
However, the performances from Bowling, Alice Moran as the story’s innocent Tasha and Suzanne Sole as the Chardonnay-fueled writer E.B. Janet were spot-on, broad and hilarious, which more than made up for a couple of missed tech beats.
Drinks beforehand at the Hanna Theatre’s bar didn’t hurt either – especially the aptly named Whips and Cuffs cocktail. After the show, grab your friends for a photo with Hugh Hanson himself.
SPANK! The Fifty Shades Parody is onstage at PlayhouseSquare through January 27 (this week’s performances run the 24th-27th).
Tickets range $10.00 – $45.00 and can be purchased here: http://www.playhousesquare.org/default.asp?playhousesquare=58&objid=3661