BWW Review: 50 SHADES! The Musical Parody; Show Extends Until 3/20

By Jared Echevarria

Manila, Philippines--If reading the book and watching the movie "Fifty Shades of Grey" is not enough, watching Off-Broadway's 50 SHADES! The Musical Parody will surely cap off your personal urges.

The Manila production of 50 SHADES!, which opened last February 12 and has been extended until March 20 at Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium in Makati City, is not as vulgar as you expected it to be. It has a creditable storyline that does not only talk about love and sex and everything in between. Starting with the three ladies in a book club, the story introduces all its other characters without giving its audiences a hard time figuring out the flow of things. It also remains faithful to the best-selling novel "Fifty Shades of Grey" because all the signature elements of the book were incorporated into the material.

The energetic, simple songs in the show are all original, which set the scenes' true emotions and feelings. Expect references from popular musicals that are commendably fun!

When it comes to the performances, the actors are all lively, unpretentious, and natural. Their energy doesn't dwindle in every scene; the viewers can really feel the intensity of the actors' stage movements, which do not show any signs of timidity nor weariness. Considering that the choreography is one of the most important elements that brings vivid life to this production, this show simply aces it with a choreography that's invested on practicality and pure fun.

The set design is minimal, though. However, the actors' use of props and set pieces is not redundant, overplayed. Although sometimes there's really a need to be dependent on some of the props, especially the scene in Grey's mansion.

As a whole, 50 SHADES! in Manila encourages the Filipino theatergoers to be more open minded when it comes to appreciating live productions of different genres. For couples and groups of friends who want to have a feel good time at the theatre, this show is for you. It's not deep, not too shallow; it just sits in a safe zone where one will be entertained without being violated or offended.

Inspired by the romance novel "Fifty Shades of Grey," written by E.L. James, which topped international bestseller lists and sold over 125 million copies worldwide, 50 SHADES! is a larger-than-life comical depiction of the book. First performed in 2014, the show has sold over one million tickets globally.

50 SHADES! revolves around a ladies book club that is having a hard time to choose a new novel to read and ends up with "Fifty Shades of Grey." The ladies' imagination and curiosity become the show's distinct flavor--making the show a hilarious mixture of laugh-out-loud and sexy moments. The show explores the steamy relationship between Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele. With 11 original songs--inspired by Gilbert and Sullivan, R&B music, and "Les Miserables," among others--and a diverse cast, 50 SHADES! is a show not to be missed by the more "adventurous" theatergoers.

Directed by Albert Samuels, 50 SHADES! cast include local actors Karel Marquez, Lorenz Martinez, Julz Savard, and Bituin Escalante, and foreign actors Brenna Wahl, Greg Kata, George Schulze, Chloe Williamson, Kaitlyn Frotton, Chris Hodgson.Casey Renee Rogers, and Isaac Saleh.

50 SHADES! plays Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, 4th Floor RCBC Plaza, Ayala Ave. and Gil Puyat Ave., Makati City, now through March 20. Tickets (P1,500-5,000) are sold at TicketWorld.com.ph and TicketNet.com.ph.

Brought to Manila by Vivre Fort Entertainment and 9 Works Theatrical, the show is recommended for mature audiences only, ages 18+.

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