OFFBEAT: '50 Shades! The Musical' pushes the envelope for audience shock and silly surprises

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2013-10-26T00:00:00Z OFFBEAT: '50 Shades! The Musical' pushes the envelope for audience shock and silly surprisesBy Philip Potempa, (219) 852-4327

I haven't read the book "Fifty Shades of Grey," which has become a cult classic destined to be the next "dirty-little-secret" reads that ranks right up there with "Peyton Place" (1956) and "Valley of the Dolls" (1966).

Those works were turned into feature films.

And guess what?  Yep, "Fifty Shades of Grey" is also headed to be a blockbuster feature film.

It's already been made into a parody stage musical comedy paying homage to the page-by-page success of the sexy, breezy read "Fifty Shades of Grey," as adapted by writer Marshall Cordell, with Emily Dorezas and Albert Samuels to dream up the stage spoof last year, which was first workshoped before having a few test-out runs at Apollo Theater in Chicago.

Broadway In Chicago is now hosting a quick run of the production "50 Shades! The Musical," following sold-out audiences in New York and a hit run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. It plays the Windy City at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place, 175 E Chestnut through Sunday, Oct. 27.

The "Fifty Shades of Grey" book trilogy has shattered sales records around the globe with more than 32 million copies sold in the United States alone, and the 2014 Universal Pictures feature film release is prompting lots of media buzz.

When I attended Wednesday's opening of the show, I wasn't sure what to expect. I arrived with an open mind, hoping for the best.

"50 Shades! The Musical" opens with a ladies' book club deciding to read "Fifty Shades of Grey." Through their interpretation of the novel, the audience is led on a hilarious roller coaster ride of this unlikely bestseller. The show is also filled with dance numbers, 11 original songs and a live band backing the performance of original songs. It's very tongue and cheek, with many very funny moments.

Dorezas had warned me that "like the book series, the stage musical is not for those under age 18." She also added "but it does not cross boundaries that would make general audiences squirm."

Truth be told, I did squirm some. This is not a comedy for anyone with sensitive ears or of a conservative nature when faced with lots of four-letter words and graphic sexual talk and description. True, it's all done in fun. But nonetheless, it's all still there during the nearly two hour, one intermission performance.

I'm told this is most of the same cast from the Off Broadway New York run.

Amber Petty stars as the lead Anastasia Steele, and she is fantastic in this role. Petty is a gifted comedienne with a fine voice that dazzles. Nick Semar as photographer Jose is also a bright spot, as is Glennis McCarthy as best friend Katherine and Shelia O'Connor as stuff (but with a secret wild side) Carol.

Tickets are $29 to $49, with a select number of premium seats also available for many performances. Groups of 10 or more are available by calling Broadway In Chicago Group Sales at (312) 977-1710. Tickets are available at all Broadway In Chicago Box Offices (24 W. Randolph St., 151 W. Randolph St., 18 W. Monroe St. and 175 E. Chestnut), the Broadway In Chicago Ticket Kiosk at Water Tower Place (845 N. Michigan Ave.), the Broadway In Chicago Ticket Line at (800) 775-2000, all Ticketmaster retail locations and online at

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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