'50 Shades' spoof has fun with porn 

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The play "50 Shades! The Musical!" is a lot more fun than "Fifty Shades of Grey" the book.

Onstage for a limited run at Marines' Memorial Theatre in The City, the 69-minute parody of the romance novel — from E.L. James' inexplicably 70-million-copy-selling trilogy — sends up its source with silly fervor.

Here, Christian Grey, the object of young, virginal Anastasia Steele's affection, is more reminiscent of John Belushi than Robert Pattinson. Chris Grace plays him deliciously over the top, wearing skimpy wrestling attire and singing lyrics like "How do you like bondage? With ropes and tape and leather? Do you want to be blindfolded? And tickled by a feather?" in a song called "Red Room," which set to tinkling piano music.

Those are among the few words from the book and score, by six comics with the Chicago-based improvisation troupe Baby Wants Candy, fit to print in a newspaper. On opening night, the audience of ladies (and gentlemen dragged there by the ladies) thoroughly enjoyed the onslaught of vulgarities and simulated sex (no nudity, though).

But Grace doesn't outdo Amber Nicole Petty, who plays Ana with perfect ditziness, singing, "We're just like any other couple / He loves the girl I am inside / He tells me I am beautiful /When I'm handcuffed and hog-tied."

As Ana's would-be Latin lover Jose, Nick Semar goes all out. So does Emily Eden, who does double duty as Ana's friend Katherine Kavanagh (in an ear-splitting, shrill interpretation) and Bev, one of three wives in a book group getting titillated reading "Fifty Shades."

The ladies' group — also including Spencer Rose as blues-belting Pam and comic darling Jessica Kemock as timid Carol — is a nice device, providing characters the audience can kind of relate to: One says, "My husband threw me down and tied me to a bed; we were in an IKEA."

Still, the show's best line is uttered by Ana: "This is real life. This isn't a book; if it were, it would be terrible."

With slight production values — there's really no set — and a lively three-piece band, "50 Shades! The Musical" isn't a particularly fulfilling evening at the theater, but rather an amusing diversion strictly for the masses of misses (and Mrs.) familiar with the book.

REVIEW

50 Shades! The Musical

Where: Marines' Memorial Theatre, 609 Sutter St., S.F.

When: 6:30 and 9:30 p.m. Friday, 3, 6:30 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday,3 and 6 p.m. Sunday

Tickets: $30 to $65

Contact: (888) 746-1799, www.shnsf.com

About The Author

Leslie Katz

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