Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014
““This is real life; this isn’t a book,” Ana says. “If it was, it would be terrible.” Can’t argue with that. Fortunately, “50 Shades!” is a musical parody, and a very entertaining one.“
I stumbled upon this review by The New York Times which references a new production happening off-Broadway at the Elektra Theatre. This production is entitled 50 Shades! the Musical and, according to The New York Times, is quite the show as it frames the original plot of the novel with a secondary plot involving an all-female book club. While I read this review, I couldn’t help but wonder what the conversations were like around the table when this was pitched for the season. Although the musical is a parody, the association to the book is obvious. Characters, plot points, and the title would be recognizable to those familiar with the source, and although the show does not contain all of the extreme sexual acts from the original text, the theatre does only allow audience members who are above the age of 18. The original text, a book by E.L. James, is a best seller, but so many of the readers tended to read it privately and shy away from discussing it with friends or significant others. It seems like quite a risk to put it on the season not knowing if your audience will show up. You know the majority of your audience has read (or is at least familiar) with the base text, but are they willing to admit it? A giant, potential consumer base would be available, but if that consumer base elected to not indulge, it could be a huge financial loss. I couldn’t help but compare it to some of our questions we received in class, specifically questions 11, 12, and 13, which all related to value.
As future arts managers, I think it’s important to look at productions like 50 Shades! It asks us to look at risk in a different way… Can we cater to an audience/viewer/consumer that indulges (sometimes discreetly) in an art that society labels as taboo? What happens if we do? Is the value of the art worth an empty seat?