You've undoubtedly heard about Fifty Shades of Grey, the raw and openly sexual fantasy novel by unsuspecting housewife and mother E.L. James. As with any cultural tsunami, Fifty spawned imitators, take-offs, parodies, and yes, its very own musical. Such are the creative tangents when the book, found everywhere from your nightstand to a soccer mom's Kindle, outsells Harry Potter.
SPANK! The Fifty Shades Parody rolled through the Hanna Theater, delighting those who breezed through the original racy read and those only vaguely familiar with the plot.
E.B. Janet (Suzanne Sole) is the author in this unaffiliated production and the butt of the majority of the jokes. She's decided to write a sex fantasy during a weekend when her husband and boys are away. The two created love interests, and the only other two characters who share the stage, are Tasha (Alice Moran) and Hugh Hanson (Gabe Bowling.) Her background as a fan fiction writer is ripe fodder for laughs, as she crafts her characters while making comparisons between the couple and the famous duo from the Twilight series.
Only SPANKED! can pull off a Batman striptease by prefacing it with E.B. Janet envisioning her male lead with a jaw line of “pre-weight gain Val Kilmer”.
Director Jim Millan does an outstanding job at slipping in jokes at every chance, while still following the story line and highlighting more noteworthy parts of the tale. Bowling was dynamic as Hugh, as he seamlessly played all four of his family members and did several on point, and hysterical, song and dance numbers.
Words to Enrique Iglesias’s “Hero” were changed to lyrics about wilder sexual acts, and a Willy Wonka reference -- from the "World of Imagination," chocolate-factory-intro bit -- becomes the basis for his "red" room, use mostly for sex swings, whips, nipple clamps and more.
Moran was fabulous at improv-ing with audience members as well as nailing Tasha, who is gorgeous with not the slightest clue. Self-aware on all the right notes, during her creation she points out she's too thin, has long hair, big blue eyes, and features with "no value." She's the perfect voice to point out the painstakingly obvious absurdity of the characters' lives and story lines.