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Performance Tue Nov 20 2012

SPANK! The Fifty Shades Parody

Michelle Vezilj and Drew Moerlein-a.jpg

Michelle Vezilj and Drew Moerlein in SPANK! The Fifty Shades Parody

Whether you have read it or not, it is no secret that E.L. James' Fifty Shades of Grey has taken the literary world by storm; the erotica and fantasy novel, still in the top five on the New York Times Best Seller's list, is a favorite among women everywhere. Next week, SPANK! The Fifty Shades Parody hits town; here, writer and director Jim Millan talks about the popular book and why, for him, a parody makes perfect sense.

When and how did you get the idea to write SPANK!?

I got a phone call around the middle of August. I talked to some writer friends of mine to get them on board; we all read the book and got started after Labor Day. It came together like it was meant to be.

When did you know that Fifty Shades of Grey would make for a great parody?

We wanted it to make sense and make points that were insightful and fun while telling the story of a virgin and her bad boy billionaire. Popular culture is full of material for comedians and when something blows up like Justin Bieber or Adele or Fifty Shades and becomes a common reference, it usually has aspects ripe for parody or comedy. It may be the funniest thing any of us ever wrote.

Certainly, there have been many other books written about erotica; why do you think there is this Fifty Shades phenomenon sweeping the nation?

I think it's great escapist fun and Anne Rice certainly burned a path years ago. But the more forbidden elements of the fantasy is what I think makes it a conversation starter; also, it's by a woman and for women, to a degree, and was discovered and shared by word of mouth -- not marketing. So it hit at a moment where women wanted to escape into the arms of a strong distant man with a taste of danger, apparently.

For your adaptation, why did you take the parody route rather than a dramatic one?

Comedy writers find oblique angles on things and explore them. It's our slightly skewed way of looking at the world that makes us funny. We had to make a satisfactory journey for our characters because our fantasy about a fantasy could have gone in hundreds of funny directions; in fact, we did explore it that way. We probably have enough funny material on the cutting room floor for another act, too. But the dramatic route is what the movie will do. We also wanted to have sensual moments but nothing heavy -- there is a lot of fun in the tease. Our show is a comedy, so we play with the ideas and situation of bondage, fantasy and role-playing. I don't want to give away all our tricks, though.

You also serve as director; from that standpoint, what did you think about going in?

I wanted it where we all celebrate the adventurousness of the book and have fun with fantasy. The audiences whoop and holler at our male lead and then at other points, they laugh so hard we have to stop the show and pause. Standing ovations are a wonderful thing when you work hard like our terrific cast does.

What do you want the audience to take away from SPANK! and for those who haven't had a chance to read the book, what can they expect or look forward to?

They can know that enjoying yourself and celebrating fantasy and passion are good things. And for those who haven't read the book yet, they should know that you can enjoy the comedy even if you don't know the romance that's being satirized. And for the men who come along as dates, I promise you will have [a good time] during and after the show.


See SPANK! The Fifty Shades Parody at the Royal George Theatre, 1641 N. Halsted, for a limited three-week engagement, beginning Wednesday, Nov. 28; performances are scheduled as follows: Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30pm, Fridays at 8pm; Saturdays at 5 and 8pm and Sundays at 3pm. Tickets are $42.50-$52.50 and are available online, at the box office, or by calling 800- 982-2787.

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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »


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