“SPANK – The Fifty Shades Parody” (review)
State Street, Schenectady
Don't think the “Fifty Shades” phenomenon is going to stop any time soon. The raucous created by the runaway bestseller by E.L. James is now officially stamped in the hearts and minds of women worldwide. When you take the Fifty Shades line up, stir in lots of laughter and parody and waltz into the female psyche where no book has gone before, watch out.
“Spank – The Fifty Shades Parody” is 50 shades of fun with its spunky characters, fantastic music, and a crowd of women that was all geared up for this evening. The show was lead by E.B. Janet ( Anne Marie Scheffler), a bored housewife and aspiring writer who gets a chance to fulfill her fantasy while her husband and children are away at Disney World. Scheffler performed superbly.
“Spank” is without a doubt a girl’s night out. Many women came adorned in face masks and clamored to the bars to get their glass of wine and to slide into the evening, where the theme is their sexuality. They all had fun being the author who was living vicariously through the character she created, Natasha, a.ka. Anastasia. This was done successfully while still pointing out the ridiculousness of the dialog and actions of the characters; all who have read the '50 Shades' trilogy allowed themselves to be sucked in.
The 95% female audience totally related to the inevitable doldrums of a decade plus marriage and the routine life lived by mothers who yearn for more excitement and unpredictability in their lives. Despite the acceptance of reality, these middle aged wives still fantasize about a “do over”, with their knight in shining armor, except with a dark and deliciously “sexuous” twist; perhaps this is something akin to a Harlequin romance but with a stronger edge. The stereotypical someone is tall dark and handsome, filthy rich, commanding, and takes control of your life inside and outside of the bed (i.e. no responsibility for me or my actions – how refreshing would that be?). That’s when Mr. long- long- long “fingers” Hugh Hanson comes into play opening the show with a sample strip tease showing the audience what’s to come.
What made the show both fun and funny were the many sexual innuendos combined with the not so subtle sexual references throughout the script. The audience was treated to the use of local references to remind them of their first sexual experiences. When Tasha first came into the red room and acknowledged (through the writer) that this was “no wood paneled basement in Scotia”, the audience roared when we were reminded our first sexual encounters most likely did not occur in an opulent red room.
The set was sparse and defined: black and red curtains with a few props and sex toys. The background music was largely Broadway musical numbers. We were pleasantly surprised by the vocal talent of Hugh (Ken Allen Neely) when he played acoustic guitar and sung a not so “love” song to Tasha.
One of the most refreshing moments of audience engagement occurred when Tasha came in to the audience and starting asking them sex questions.
Everyone left with a smile on their face and maybe a new fantasy.
By Margo Janack
By J.S Blair, I.M. Macintyre, J.A. Millan, S.A. Moran, C.J. Munch, A.M. Scheffler, I.P. Whalen
with Andrea Muller
Ken Allen Neely
Ann Marie Scheffler
Directed by Jim Millan
Produced by Michael Mills
Address: State St, Schenectady, NY, USA