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June 14, 2013 - 50 Shades! The Musical

We were invited to preview the one-week run of “50 Shades! The Musical, The Original Parody,” at the Fisher Theater in Detroit, Friday night, June 14th. We love the Fisher, both the building and the theater, and enjoy going to shows there and at the Detroit Opera House; excellent productions are held at both.

Neither of us had read the super-popular book, “50 Shades of Grey,” upon which this musical was based. We didn’t even know until we arrived that it was going to be a Parody; we really did not know what to expect, and WOW, were we surprised! This was unlike any production we’ve ever seen and, if indicative of the future direction of theatrical productions, a bit disconcerting.

Neither of us are prudes, the wild side has been occasionally strayed into, but, but, uh… Whereas much of the humor in other shows, musicals, and comedies we’ve seen is at least a bit subtle or clever, while mixed in with a healthy dose of ribaldry and the occasionally obvious, 50 Shades reversed this formula then threw it in your face. The humor resembled the jokes told by a sweaty road construction crew, but less subdued and finessed. It’s hard to describe this musical without making this review, hence our website, X-rated and we choose not to do that. But if you could hear what the cast was saying, which was often difficult because the audience was laughing ahead of the punch lines, you knew what was coming: sexual punditry, rhyming jokes, repeating of words and phrases intended to shock one into nervous laughter, and physical comedy illustrative of vigorous, no holds barred, S&M sexual activity with the woman as an object. Clearly, this was all with the intention of making an extreme mockery of the book, but, but, uh…?

This is the first time the musical has come to Detroit and it ran from June 14-16th. You can supposedly explore your inner goddess thru the best seller 50 Shades of Grey, but the inner goddess of this parody was much more uncertain about her actions than a goddess should be, with good reason. It is apparently a tale of a woman becoming involved in an abusive relationship where she is coerced into doing things she never even imagined. Coercion is almost never a good thing and it is very hard to successfully parody. This must have been successful, because nearly everyone was laughing. For us, the parody was a bit discomfiting even though I laughed aloud at times. It definitely says something about human nature when one is laughing at a parody of degradation, we’re just not sure what it says. All we can say is you have to see it to believe it; definitely not for the under 18 age crowd.

There were 11 original songs and a live band backing the cast. Both the cast and the band were really good and quite convincing in their roles. The music fit the scenes nearly perfectly, adding to it without drawing its own attention.

We are normally a heavily photographic website, however, there are no photos allowed inside the Fisher Theater during the shows. We were not expecting the cast to be accessible, but at the end of the evening they came out to meet their fans. We had honored the no-photo policy and packed our cameras back into the car after taking shots of the building prior to the show, so please excuse the iPhone photos of post-show. It was all we had to shoot with at the time and it was both crowded and dark.