In February, Starlight Theatre will present a touring production of the campy “50 Shades! The Musical Parody” as an indoor show.
The event is a first for Starlight, which has occasionally produced shows at downtown venues but never at the Swope Park facility during winter months. It’s also the first show at Starlight to carry an 18-and-older recommendation.
“50 Shades” will be performed on the outdoor venue’s big stage, which can be enclosed during wet or cold weather and is used in that configuration for some corporate events. Richard Baker, Starlight’s president and CEO, said risers would be rented for seating, which would accommodate about 500 patrons per performance.
Baker said he and his staff looked at the numbers and saw that Starlight would lose money on the show — until the producers offered lower fees.
“They were kind enough to give me a deal that would at least allow me to break even,” Baker said. “It significantly cut my risks on the downside. Then I contacted marketing and said: ‘What do you guys think?’”
“50 Shades! The Musical Parody” opened off-Broadway in March and is still running. The tour began in April. It is one of at least three stage shows spoofing “Fifty Shades of Grey,” the salacious bestseller by E.L. James. The book is about a kinky relationship between a literature student and a business tycoon with singular erotic tastes. James has written two sequels.
Another show, “Spank! The Fifty Shades Parody,” is also touring and played the Midland theater last year. “Cuff Me: The Fifty Shades of Grey Musical Parody,” ran a few months in New York in 2013 and is still on the road.
Baker said that if “50 Shades” has a successful run, Starlight would consider booking other musicals into the theater during the off-season — perhaps “Menopause: The Musical” and “Late Night Catechism.” He also said children’s shows were a possibility.
“50 Shades” is scheduled to run Feb. 10-15, which dovetails with the Feb. 13 opening of the movie version of “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Baker said Starlight was strongly recommending an 18-and-older audience, not because of nudity but because of raunchy lyrical content.
He said the ticket price would include free parking and that all parking would be on surface lots. No parking on the grass, in other words.
“We think it’s going to work out well, but until we actually do it we won’t know for sure,” he said. “The only thing we can’t control is snowfall, but we’re making sure we’re ready to plow the streets if need be.
“I don’t think we could have picked a show with better name recognition. We might get a slightly different audience than Starlight (regular season) has. It does tend to skew a little young.”