Published on July 1st, 2013 | by David

50 Shades! The Musical Comes To The Bay

The story of 50 Shades! The Musical has a quirky beginning: Marshall Cordell, a serial stage producer and entrepreneur, heard about hardware stores running low on rope, and (unaware of the cause), thought there might be a market opportunity for a rope factory abroad.  Soon after, however, he discovered the real reason for the shortage– fans of the bestselling 50 Shades of Gray buying it all up for bedroom games. He checked out the book, and realized that the provocative subject matter could be great fodder for a light-hearted musical.

First released at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, 50 Shades! The Musical is coming to the Bay after sold-out performances in Chicago, New York, and around the country. The cast and creative team includes a number of members of the highly popular Baby Wants Candy musical improv troupe, as well as veterans of stage, television, comedy, and film.

I recently got a to have a short conversation with Emily Dorezas, one of 50 Shades! writers and the Executive Producer of Baby Wants Candy.

TrulyNet: I recognize you from Comedy Central!

Emily Dorezas:  I do standup, and I’ve been on Comedy Central before. This show started as a side project to my world of comedy, and I’m seeing where it goes. It’s definitely taking a lot of my attention, but as it got bigger and bigger, it was just something I really wanted to focus on and make sure we made it the best it could be. I’m totally excited to be working on this; I never in a million years thought I would be working on a scripted musical. I still love performing, though– I’m never giving that up.

TN: I’ve heard the buzz and the jokes, but I’ve never actually read 50 Shades. Can I still see this show?

ED: Yep! The story of the musical follows a book club that decides to read 50 Shades of Grey, and we see the story unfold through their eyes– they explain the book as they go, and act as a sort of greek chorus throughout, so you should be just fine. That said, for the die-hard trilogy fans, there are plenty of inside jokes and nuances to pick up  (TN note: There are three of these books?).

TN: What’s the reception been like to this musical?

ED: It’s been insane; we’ve been selling out across the country. The 50 Shades of Grey brand certainly helps us out, but the great thing to see on our end is that people actually come back to the show (multiple times). The book is insanely popular, but it also seems like people are genuinely enjoying our production of it.

TN: So I know you were involved as one of the main writers. Were you also involved with the actual execution?

ED: Absolutely, I’ve been involved every step of the way. The head director, Al (Samuels) doesn’t actually tour with the show, so I follow it on tour as resident director.

TN: How have you seen the show change as you’ve taken it through these various performances? What surprised you as you brought it from city to city?

ED: In the very beginning it was pretty heavy on the jokes and lewd bits– you didn’t quite care about the characters as much as you needed to. Where it is now, though, I feel like you end up caring for everybody in the show, and you’re really rooting for certain characters. It’s definitely funny, but (we hope) you’ll also end up emotionally invested in the characters. We definitely tried to put some heart in there.

TN: So the subject matter of the book and musical is (at least up until recently) a relatively polarizing thing. You had this [BDSM] subculture, and then you had the sort of conservative religious right, and there wasn’t much of a middle there. Have you had particularly memorable reactions from either end of the spectrum?

It’s kind of surprising– we haven’t really had any pushback. I’d say what is shocking to me is what makes up our audience, and that is men and women (but mostly women) who you would never suspect have read this book, and they are front and center obsessed with it. There are no kids in our audience for obvious reasons, but we have folks from about 18 to 80. The 80 year-olds get everything (and love it), and it’s always hilarious to me that there doesn’t seem to be an age limit on this.

In terms of being in conservative areas, we have taken the show to quite a few different places, and really haven’t had much pushback. Occasionally I’ll hear back from somebody that didn’t realize that this is what it was. I don’t know what they thought it would be (laughs)– who hasn’t heard of this book? Maybe they thought it was more tame, but if you even explore it slightly, even just read the review on Amazon, it’s clear that for a #1 bestseller, it’s pretty intense.

TN: Is there anything else people should know about this show?

ED: So we all know that this book is popular with women, and we certainly get lots of women at our shows, but for the guys– especially if they’re the ones that bought the tickets– there are benefits on the home front (laughs) to bringing your wife or girlfriend (or boyfriend) to this show. We get thank-you letters, seriously. I always like to tell guys “you’ll be thanked later for it.” It’s completely true, and totally funny. I think guys think some book not realizing how freaky it is, and kind of opens the door for conversation…at least that’s what I’ve heard.

And if you’re single….oh boy. If you’re a single guy who comes to this show, forget it. You will be eaten alive (laughs). Maybe not, but maybe.

50 Shades! The Musical  will be playing the Marines’ Memorial Theatre (609 Sutter Street, 2nd Floor) Tuesday, July 23 through Sunday, July 28. Tickets ($30, $45, $65) go on sale Friday, June 28 and may be purchased online at www.shnsf.com or by calling (888)746-1799. For more information, please visit www.50ShadesMusical.com or www.shnsf.com.  50 Shades! The Musical is not associated with, endorsed or authorized by E.L. James or Vintage Books.

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About the Author

David has been writing professionally since 2008, as a translator and product editor for Japan Trend Shop. Along the way he has worked in IT for Six Apart (and its reincarnation as SAY Media), Naked Communications, and Tokyo 2.0, as well as volunteering his nerdiness for dance events and organizations such as the Fusion Exchange and the Portland Swing and Jazz Dance society. After graduating Lewis & Clark College in 2010, David entered the Teach for America program, and taught Algebra and Geometry at Aptos Middle School in San Francisco. When he's not educating young minds or buried in a computer screen, he spends his time dancing, and frequently teaches dance with fellow TrulyNet author Ruth Hoffman.

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