Off-Broadway's 50 SHADES! The Musical Parody Premieres in Manila, 2/12

This hilariously naughty satire, based on E.L. James' novel "Fifty Shades of Grey," runs at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium in Makati City from Monday, February 12, to Sunday, February 28 (weekends only). It previously played 453 performances at Off-Broadway's The Elektra Theatre (300 W. 43rd Street).

By Jared Echevarria

Manila, Philippines--Prepare to be allured and energized as Off-Broadway's 50 SHADES!, the musical parody, comes to Manila this February, the month of love. 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! plays Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, 4th Floor RCBC Plaza, Ayala Ave. and Gil Puyat Ave., Makati City, from February 12 to 28. Tickets (P1,500-5,000) are sold at TicketWorld.com.ph and TicketNet.com.ph.

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 "Fifty Shades of Grey" characters 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.

Its cast includes 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. These performers have been learning techniques and experiences from each other, which forge a deeper working relationship considering the unique material that they have.

At a recent press conference, the foreign cast members were all praises for the work ethics of the local actors, citing their dedication to their crafts; they said they're also enjoying their fresh taste of the Filipino culture, which according to them is "exceptionally great." The local cast, on the other hand, is teaching their "guests" simple Tagalog words such as Mahal Kita (I Love You).

50 SHADES! Director Albert Samuels says it doesn't matter whether or not you've read the book or watched its recent film adaptation; the show is "fresh, fun, and entertaining."

"There were some who never watched or read it, but according to them, it was the funniest show they've seen...there's a lot to be seen, the music and the content, overall, it's a good show," says Samuels.

Additionally, Samuels notes that the Philippine production is something to look forward to because some of the talents are homegrown and can definitely and effectively connect with the audience. Having a diverse cast is "a good thing."

"We usually customized our shows based on our audiences and there would be interactive parts, too...by means of customization, we will be incorporating some Filipino flavor so that we can sustain the interest of the audiences."

With regard to the filtering of the content given that the Philippines is a predominantly Catholic country, Samuels says, "there were some but not all." He even compares the Philippines to several southern states in the U.S., which are very religious. "The Southern parts of the U.S. enjoyed watching the show." He expects the same reception among the Filipino audiences.

Besides Samuels and the cast, the Philippine production of 50 SHADES! is also made up of Emily Dorezas, writer-producer; Andrew Asnes, executive producer; Robbie Guevara, assistant director; Mio Infante, scenographer; Mindy Cooper, choreographer; PJ Rebullida, choreographer; Only Torres, musical director-vocals; Daniel Bartolome, musical director-instrumentation; Martin Esteva, lighting designer, and Myrene Santos, hair and makeup designer.

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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