Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Cuff Me - The 50 Shades of Grey Parody

L to R: Brock Madden, Kate Alden, Anna Maria Clausen, Casey Raiha

The title pretty much says it all — Cuff Me: The 50 Shades of Grey (unauthorized) Musical Parody. If that doesn’t give you a strong hint of what to expect, you’ve been living under a rock since 2011 when the book Fifty Shades of Grey was published and immediately became a worldwide sensation. I never read the book but from word of mouth — not to mention a slew of Facebook postings — I gather that is a very badly written book about sadomasochistic sex, filled with descriptions of one kinky, fetishistic sexual escapade after another. And that’s what this stage show is, except for the badly written part.
This musical parody written by the sketch and improv comedy group The Pushers tells the story of the dominatrix Christian Grey and his submissive, Ana, a.k.a. Anastasia, in song and dance. Beware: the songs and dialogue contain graphic mention of every kinky sex act imaginable, and the dancing comically simulates these same acts. The first half hour is laugh-out-loud funny, and may be shocking to some audience members who don’t know what to expect. Then all the sex becomes wearying. The singing and dancing, however, is highly energetic and audacious throughout, and the four-person cast holds back nothing.
The show opens with the cast dressed in classical S&M garb singing a song that introduces the book with the repeated line, “You read it, we touch it,” followed by “Touch Myself” with “The Clown” (Brock Madden) in the lead and the rest of the cast singing backup. These songs and all to follow are raunchy and rocking.
Casey Raiha plays Christian. Kate Alden plays Ana, a wide-eyed innocent who willingly submits to Christian’s every kinky desire. The other two cast members, Madden and Anna Marie Clausen, are a two-person chorus listed in the program as Kate and “The Clown,” but actually playing a variety of characters demanding a great range of acting skill and some great costume changes including lots of black S&M gear, Seahawks feet pajamas and some cross dressing from Madden. Christian and Ana don’t display such a wide ranging wardrobe, but Christian’s cutaway pants are funny, and Ana’s black underwear and mesh stockings epitomize the hedonistic culture — great costuming from Riona Faith O’Malley.
The stage is set even before the opening musical number when the customary admonition to turn off all cell phones ends with “If it’s on vibrate put it between your legs.”
The opening number establishes that the show is going to be about the book, which they describe as very badly written. Kate says she has never heard of 50 Shades of Grey, so the others tell her all about it, acting it out with lots of hip thrusts and hot music that consists of clever parodies of hit songs like Britney Spears’ “Hit Me One More Time" and Madonna’s “Like A Virgin” (changed to “I’m a Virgin,” and believe me, she doesn’t remain a virgin very long). There are even parodies of popular songs from Broadway musicals such as “If I Were a Rich Man” from Fiddler on the Roof. Other memorable songs are “Spankin’ It While I Poke Ya” and “Hit Me Baby.”
The smartly designed set by Steven Anschutz consists of marbleized boxes that are moved to configure various seats, and screens on wheels with an array of torture implements hung on them.
The program did not list a choreographer so I can only guess that it was the work of director Sonya Carter, probably with input from the cast and from Musical Director and Creative Consultant Amy Jones, all of whom did a great job.
If you have seen any of the Christmas pantomimes at Centerstage or if you saw the great summer musical revue I’m Into Something Good, just imagine a combination of those with a surfeit of sex thrown in and you’ll have a good idea of what to expect from Cuff Me. It is a relatively short play running under two hours with no intermission. They expect to sell out the remaining performances, so go online or call early to reserve tickets.
Centerstage at the Knutzen Family Theatre 3200 SW Dash Point Road, Federal Way, through March 30. 
Ticket prices range from $49 to $28. To purchase tickets or for more information about group rates, call the Centerstage Box Office at 253-661-1444 or online at www.centerstagetheatre.com.

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