Go on, admit it. You read Fifty Shades of Grey. And in spite of the truly pathetic syntax and the nauseatingly repetitive phrasing, you found yourself sort of enjoying discovering how disastrous it was. Every time Ana’s inner goddess did a dance you cringed, but you also took some solace in knowing you’d been to literary hell and back. Boy, do the folks over at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center have a show for you.
On May 17 and 18, TPAC will present SPANK! The Fifty Shades Parody at the James K. Polk Theater. Sharp, hilarious, and not at all authorized by author E.L. James or Vintage Press, SPANK! promises to be one of the funniest productions at TPAC this year. The main character (Christian Grey in the book and Hugh Hanson in SPANK!) is portrayed by the handsome Drew Moerlein, an alum of New York City’s Midtown International Theater Festival, Syracuse University graduate, and was it mentioned that he’s stunningly handsome?
O&AN caught up with the smoldering Moerlein who told us just how dirty SPANK! would get.
How is the vibe of SPANK! different from more serious productions you’ve done?
SPANK! is a larger-than-life, broad, outrageous parody that really allows the actors to explore these characters. I’ve gotten to use my own quirks to explore the ridiculous lifestyle of this billionaire dominatrix. There are definitely parts of myself that lend to accessing parts of this character. It makes it hysterical to perform.
What do you think it is about Fifty Shades that intrigues people and makes it so parody-ready?
You’ve got the wealthy billionaire. You’ve got the naïve, pretty virgin who has no experience. He’s exerting his power over this woman. I think that many women want to feel controlled. Probably not in their professional lives, not in their actual relationship, but they want the excitement and the thrill this character – Anastasia, or “Tasha” in our production—gets to feel.
So there are different names for the characters. Have you read the book?
I have, for research. [laughs]
Is the plot basically the same as the book?
The characters in the show are revealed in the exact same way as in the book, but we’ve given them different names. The writer, E.L. James, who for our purposes is the narrator of the show, we call her E.B. Janet. She basically creates this world in front of the audience.
I saw that there’s a disclaimer on TPAC’s schedule that this show contains mature content. How dirty does it get?
It’s actually surprisingly non-specific in terms of what you see. There are many instruments the audience will see, and they can then use their own imagination for how one would use them. But it is not a tutorial on how to insert a butt plug into a submissive’s behind while piercing their nipples with sharp objects.
It’s definitely apparent what is happening, but we sort of let the audience do the imagining. I think that’s one of the most impressive parts of the show. It also helps everyone in the room reach a level of discomfort but not think, ‘This is inappropriate for me to be at.’
Just one last question, who will enjoy this show the most?
I think if you enjoyed these books or enjoy having a raucous fun time with your friends and like getting taken out of your box of normalcy and want to laugh for two hours straight and see some people act a fool up on stage, then SPANK! is definitely an amazing night out. You get sexually excited and laugh your ass off all at the same time.
SPANK! The Fifty Shades Parody will be at the James K. Polk Theater in Nashville May 17-18. Tickets start at $20 and some sections are already sold out, so get yourself over to TPAC.org if you think you might like to get your SPANK! on.