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The Suburbanite
  • ‘Spank!’ spoofs erotic ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’

  • A runaway international bestseller, the erotic novel “Fifty Shades of Grey,” is spoofed in the cheeky new musical-comedy titled “Spank! The Fifty Shades Parody”

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  • A runaway international bestseller, the erotic novel “Fifty Shades of Grey,” is spoofed in the cheeky new musical-comedy titled “Spank! The Fifty Shades Parody”
    Launched to instant success in Boston in October, the show already has played Toronto, Los Angeles and Las Vegas and has three touring companies criss-crossing North America.
    Cleveland will get “Spank!”-ed on Thursday, when the show opens a 10-performance run through Jan. 27 at the Hanna Theatre in Playhouse Square Center.
    “It’s a really great ladies night out,” says Alice Moran, 24, who helped write the show and who plays the ingenue Tasha Woode. “If you know the book, there’s a lot of in-jokes. If you don’t, it’s a whole lot of sexy comedy, a little bit of singing and a little bit of dancing.”
    “It’s been going over great everywhere we’ve been,” she said. “We get a lot of people who lose their minds laughing.”
    For those who haven’t read it, E.L. James’ “Fifty Shades of Grey,” Moran explained, “is about a young virgin who meets a billionaire. They fall in love, but it’s difficult because he has a scarred past. There’s a lot of very, very mild kink. He’s very dominating, and she’s concerned because she has no sexual experiences to compare them to.”
    Derided by some critics as “mommy porn,” James’ writing “is not the greatest, to be polite,” Moran added.
    The actress describes her “Spank!” character, Tasha, as like “a 10-year-old boy who is suddenly a beautiful 21-year-old woman. She is positive and outgoing, but she doesn’t know the basics.”
    Hugh, the wealthy young sadist played by Drew Moerlin, “is very good-looking and ridiculously funny,” Moran said. “He says wild things very deadpan, the way you or I would order a coffee. He’s the one who goes way too far.”
    During the course of the freewheeling show, “I go out into the crowd,” Moran said. “I get sex advice from strangers, talk to some of the male audience members. It’s a lot of fun.”
    Her co-star, Moerlin, delivers a Chippendales-style “necktie dance,” and poses with audience members in the theater lobby after the show.
    The third character in “Spank!” is E.B. Janet (played by Amanda Barker), a stand-in for the actual “Fifty Shades” novelist, who narrates and “serves as the audience’s voice,” Moran said.
    Toronto-based Moran has been a writer and performer with Second City, and co-created and performs in the stage parodies “Hungry Hungry Games” and “Throne of Games.”
    “Spank!” came to fruition quickly. “We didn’t start writing it until August and we opened in October,” she said. “We were all writing sketches and we put it together into one cohesive play.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Asked if E.L. James has attended “Spank!” or contacted its creators, Moran said, “Nope, nope, thank God, nope. We are well within the realm of parody. I worked at Second City so I’m very aware of what we can and cannot get away with.”
    Moran was careful not to exclude males from attending “Spank!” “I think it’s equally enjoyable for men,” she said. “We have a long home-improvement joke, which is where you really hear all the male laughter.”
    She advises leaving the kids at home because “parents would have to explain way too much on the car ride home!”
    “So you’ll get your kicks by exerting your will over me.”
    “It’s about gaining your trust and your respect, so you’ll let me exert my will over you. I will gain a great deal of pleasure, joy, even in your submission. The more you submit, the greater my joy - it’s a very simple equation.”
    “Okay, and what do I get out of this?”
    He shrugs and looks almost apologetic.
    “Me,” he says simply.
    - Excerpt from “Fifty Shades of Grey” by E.L. James