50 Shades of Grey is a phenomenon. It’s not just a book or a piece of fan fiction that became popular. It’s a movement. Really. Yes, it’s a book that seemingly every women between 30 and 60 owns, but it’s also a soon-to-be feature length film. It’s so popular a parody musical has become a hit in New York City. That success has led to a touring company and that touring company is coming to DC this week.
We spoke with actress Eileen Patterson, playing the role of Anna, about appearing in a musical that isn’t for the whole family for her family.
How’s the show going?
It’s going great! Audiences love it; it’s a blast to perform. We have a great time on stage with it. It’s a really really, silly, funny show despite the raunch. In addition to the raunch, I should say. So, it’s a good time for everybody.
When you say the raunch, how raunchy is raunchy?
I would say anything that would be considered really raunchy isn’t able to be done on stage. We deal with a suggestive book.
Considering the musical, book or the film, this is the probably most family friendly of the three.
Yes, but I would never suggest anyone to bring children. I would say 18 and over but the musical is definitely the least graphic. Certainly. Because we’re poking fun at it so it’s not meant to be taken seriously.
Who is the average theater-goer for this show?
I would go with the 30-60 female demographic. However, when men come, they absolutely love it.
I would image.
Any of the guys that I have spoken to who have seen the show, my dad has come, my brother has come to see it, and they think it’s absolutely hilarious.
So your brother and father enjoyed seeing their sibling and daughter in the show.
This is correct.
That’s an endorsement.
It is an endorsement, that’s why I tell people, “Even my dad enjoyed it!” and he sees me in some compromising positions so…
Did you think you would be doing this when you were studying theater?
No, definitely not.
What was your ideal role as a twenty-year, old bright-eyed college student.
Oh goodness, Elle Woods in Legally Blonde all those, all those young blonde ingenue types are typically what I auditioned for. The audition requirements for this were just like any other musical. So I approached it as such.
Unlike more musicals you guys are touring and only doing a hand full of shows in each city, does that make the production different than anything else or is it just normal for you guys now?
I think it becomes normal. You’ll get into a pattern, people get into habits. Being in a new venue all the time is helpful for us because it makes you approach the show a little differently every time and in every venue. Sometimes the venue is really small, we played rooms of 150 and we played a house of 1,000, so it changes how you do the show.
How is the audience’s reaction when it transitions from a smaller black box room to a giant place like the Warner?
I think in the smaller venues people are more hesitant to buy into the show. I think they feel a little bit more self-conscious in the more intimate settings. When we play house of about 500, right now Dallas is 700, I think that’s a great size. The show has a very improv-comedy feel to it. I think the show is built for a more mid-sized house. When there is a bigger audience I think people feel one of many and if they want to laugh at sometimes that might be a little taboo, it’s OK.
It’s a very interesting, odd dilemma. Where is the band set up when you’re playing a 150 room versus a theater?
They’re on stage. It’s so cool to have our band rocking out with us. It’s awesome. (The show features a band and features 11 original songs.)
Who is showing up to this that hasn’t read the book? Of at least knows about the book.
Husbands and boyfriends.