Call Me Adam chats with the cast and creatives of the new Off-Broadway musical 50 Shades of F****d Up (The other unauthorized parody). We talk about their attraction to the show, the freedom this show has given them, their vulnerabilities, S&M, and the most unusual places they've ever had sex.
50 Shades of F****d Up plays at Sophie's in NYC (318 West 53rd Street, between 8th & 9th Ave) through June 7! Click here for tickets! Follow 50 Shades at http://www.50shadesfdup.com and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!
Ben McHugh ("Christian Grey"): I actually fell in to performing by default. I applied to be the lighting operator for my high school production of GREASE and ended up playing "Danny Zuko." I was downright awful as I had never performed on stage before but absolutely loved it and the social side of rehearsing and performing. I guess the bug bit because I haven't stopped since. I celebrated my 20th year as an actor since beginning in community theater in 2013.
Jenna Dallacco ("Anastasia Steele"): There many performers whom I look up to and inspire my work with their talent, but I can't say that these people have influenced my decision to be a performer. It's just always been what I've done and been called to do.
Cedric Leiba, Jr. ("Grey's Global"/"Jose"/"Inner Goddess"): Artists like Madonna, Michael Jackson along with musicals and music themed shows like the Mickey Mouse Club.
Krista DeMille ("Kate"/"Grey's Global Duo"/Dance Captain): Applauase and seemingly unconditional approval at age 5.
Hiroyuki Matsuura (Drums/Percussion): Keith Jarrett and Chick Corea were a few of my biggest influences of my early music life. I can't deny that the Japanese comic/TV series/movie called Ashita no Joe and the TV series, Fame inspired me a lot too.
Ben: Ian McKellen.
Jenna: Gah! Dream List (in no particular order): I would love to work with Paul Gemignani, Darko Tresnjak, Alex Timbers, Stafford Arima, Rachel Chavkin, Dave Malloy, RuPaul, to name a few!
Cedric: Marc Anthony, JLO, Ricky Martin and Audra McDonald.
Krista: Daniel Davis is the greatest American actor at this point - our Mark Rylance on this side of the pond. The ironic part is that he is most known as the butler on The Nanny with Fran Drescher, but the nitty gritty is he is our finest American classical actor, and then some. I adore his work and can't wait to work with him!!!!
Hiroyuki: Claude Debussy, Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis. I know they are dead. Sting, Buika, Jon Mayor, Erikah Badu, Seiji Kameda, Herbie Hancock, D'Angelo...I can't stop!!!
Ben: I never auditioned. Tricia Brouk (Writer/Director) whom I worked with in 2012 on TOKIO CONFIDENTIAL called me out of the blue February 2013 and asked me how I would feel about being semi naked on stage and simulating "comedic" sex scenes for the presentation of a new work she was putting together. My daughter was only 9 months old at that point and I was enjoying the couch potato lifestyle of a stay-at-home father who wasn't exercising. I literally asked her how long i had to get in shape before the show was going to be presented as I was pinching my belly fat! lol.
Jenna: I felt really connected to both the music and book as soon as I heard and read them, respectively. I knew it was a project I wanted to be a part of.
Cedric: Being able to sing and perform Andrew Sotomayor's music.
Krista: I saw it in its first incarnation and laughed my ass off.
Hiroyuki: I didn't audition. Andrew Sotomayor called me.
Ben: I'm so proud of the team we have together. I've had the benefit of working on this show on and off now for 12 months and it was like dusting off an old coat for me. But Jenna, Cedric and Krista had the better part of a week to get it all down. They worked so hard and I'm really proud of all their achievements. I think they're amazing!
Jenna: I haven't worked with anyone in the cast, band, or creative team so meeting so many new amazing people has been wonderful. I love the great synergy we four cast members have. I also feel very supported as a person and actor onstage with them. This show is so fun and fulfilling to perform with them. Plus they're really good looking.
Cedric: Being able to truly have fun and act a fool on stage!
Krista: The level of incredibleness of my fellow cast members...wow. I love to listen to them!
Ben: Sophie's is a great venue as it's intimate and has an almost "red room of pain" quality to it which is absolutely perfect for the nature of this show. If the audience wanted to, they could actually reach out and touch us. The VIP seats are "crotch-cam!" Oh and you can drink!
Jenna: I like the size of the house for this show.
Cedirc: The intimacy.
Krista: A, Sophie herself is an incredible woman and NYC businessperson! B, what's more fun than seeing a well crafted show in an intimate environment, C, audience quote: "you don't have to drink to enjoy this show," but it sure is fun too!
Ben: That working a brand new musical can be brutal but also exhilarating! I love the fact that both of them are not precious about their work and are prepared to cut anything that doesn't further the story. I always tell the story of how they abruptly cut this beautiful ballad between Christian and Anastasia towards the end of the show, because it dragged the tempo down and made them "too human" which is what they were trying to avoid. I'm hoping that if the show ever gets recorded to CD that its a bonus track.
Jenna: I learned a whole lot about how to walk the fine line of parody and comedy. I loved collaborating with Andrew on his music, incorporating the pop sensibility while giving nods to other singers and writers. Tricia really taught me how to inhabit this world she created for me to play in. I love her insight and intelligence.
Cedric: I was reminded through this show that I really LOVE doing musicals.
Krista: Tricia and Andrew bring a high level of craft to a universal subject with a sweet dose of irreverence. Their willingness to not be serious brings a seriousness to the subject. It's so much fun.
Hiroyuki: Musical theater people are nice, cheerful, and filthy.
Ben: This show has allowed me to take risks like I've never done before. I still get nervous about the semi nude aspect and parts of the more provocative nature of the show, but its definitely something I'm proud of. I also haven't tackled comedy of this style before which has been really exciting and different.
Jenna: Separately from the S&M, I feel I have been empowered from taking on such a large role. I also feel empowered in a way by the silly and "ugly" comic things I have to do. Because it's different from the standard MT roles, it takes some guts to do the portrayed sex and be as goofy as I get. And it's empowering.
Cedric: As an actor you have to be completely vulnerable. This show forces you to have to go there and not look back!
Krista: This show has empowered me in its mandate for truthfulness combined with the necessity for bold choices. Yes, that's always the case in acting, but this show seems to accentuate that necessity. Enjoying myself is key! As in my personal life :)
Ben: I was tied up once - didn't like it. Ha!
Cedric: Never tried S&M.
Krista: S&M....I used to be a personal trainer and was once approached by someone to be their Dom. I entertained the idea and interviewed with them because I do have a latent knack for bossiness. I didn't take that particular position, but I definitely like to play with sharing power in the beaudoir.
Ben: Back of a car while a taxi pulled up behind me, which then took something like 5 minutes to drop the passenger off. We basically stayed there pretending nothing was going on!
Cedric: I'm still a virgin.
Krista: I can't fess up to the most unusual place, I might get in trouble.
10. What is it like to reveal yourselves so vulnerably with this show?
Ben: It's a very liberating show. A great non-stop ride of silliness which is what I really enjoy performing. I don't know how much longer I can keep this up as I have to wake at 5:30am every morning to work out before my daughter gets up. Vanity is a bitch!
Krista: Revealing one's vulnerability is always elating and transformational; I feel grateful for the opportunity.
1. Who or what inspired you to write this show?
Tricia Brouk (Writer/Director/Choreographer): Someone told me I'd be great at directing a parody about this material. I waited for a writer to come on board. I'm very impatient, so I wrote it myself. Then I asked Andrew, who I'd worked with before, if he'd be interested in arranging music for it. He said yes, but asked if he could try writing a song for it first. When he sent me the opening song, it blew me away. "Ordinary Girl" is fantastic and two weeks later, he had the entire show written. He and I work extremely fast.
Andrew David Sotomayor (Composer/Lyricist/Musical Director): Tricia had actually asked me to arrange music for the script originally written around pop songs. I thought the script was hilarious and asked if she's give me a shot at creating original music and lyrics for it. I wrote "Ordinary Girl," and played it for her. She graciously invited me to complete the score.
Tricia: Tina Fey, Tim Curry, Helen Mirren, Jimmy Fallon.
Andrew: In no particular order: Stephen Oremus, Stephen Sondheim, Stephen Schwartz, and Stephen Flaherty. I'm continuously inspired by their respective contributions to musical theatre, the fact that they're all named Stephen is an amazing coincidence.
3. What has been the best part working with this group?
Tricia: The best part has been seeing their work ethic and trust in the material. We had very little time to rehearse, so they were thrown in and they all had to bring it. I loved seeing each and everyone of them step into the role fully. Bold choices turn me on. Even if they are not the right choices, they are still appreciated.
Andrew: Beyond their ridiculous talent, the best part of working with this group is the respect they have for their craft and for the material. They worked so hard and took the rehearsal process so seriously, and thusly took being bold and sexy and outrageous with the utmost level of intensity. It was inspiring to see them build these larger than life and zany characters and then unleash them in front of an audience. It was honestly thrilling.
Tricia: Sophie's is a sexy space that allows the audience to see our show up close and personal.
Andrew: Sophie's is perfect to house the show because it has a great balance of distance and intimacy. The performances are far enough away that you can watch the whole show as an observer, but close enough that the fun is always in your face no matter where you're sitting.
Tricia: When I read the book, I was very offended, as a woman. Why would a young girl with a bright future allow a rich, powerful man to smack her around in the bedroom? Why is this book so wildly popular? I wanted to parody the book and also honor E.L. James, but it was extremely important to me that I show the power of "Anastasia" in the end. She does come to her senses and realize that she has to say no. She loves him, but wants more. She finally says no more. Well until the next book, but our parody only deals with book one.
Andrew: Working on this show has definitely given me permission as an artist to be aware of my limits and not be afraid to articulate what I'm comfortable with. Conversely, it has made me realize that power is relative and being in control and relinquishing control can both be equally creatively satisfying in completely different ways. Also, I'm not so shy about writing nasty words in lyrics anymore.
Tricia: I love the idea of a ball gag, but I'm claustrophobic.
Andrew: I've never tried S&M, but since we're being honest about it, I can see why people find tying someone up hot.
7. What's the most unusual place you've ever had sex?
Tricia: Wouldn't you want to know!
Andrew: The projection room above the auditorium. Wait...that wasn't me...that was "Regina George" in Mean Girls.
8. What is it like to reveal yourselves so vulnerably with this show?
Tricia: Writing dirty sophomoric humor came very naturally to me. Writing about sex was not a big deal. Choreographing the sex was very important to me. I wanted to go up to the line, but never cross it. There's no nudity or graphic anything. The sex is acrobatic and hilarious. In, my humble twelve year old boy humor, opinion.
Andrew: It's equal parts terrifying and liberating. Hearing the audience react makes me feel proud of what we accomplished, but at the same time I'm so hyper aware of how naughty we are and sometimes I think about what my Mom would say. But who am I trying to kid, she'd probably love it.
Ben has appeared in the National Tours of MAMMA MIA!(Sam/Bill cover),HAIRSPRAY (Corny). New York theatre credits include TOKIO CONFIDENTIAL (Ralph), THE SECRET GARDEN (Dr. Neville Archer), TITANIC (Swing), BROADWAY VARIETEASE and JEKYLL & HYDE (J&H cover). International credits include THE PRODUCERS (Lead Tenor), GREASE (Vince), PIRATES OF PENZANCE and SHOUT! THE LEGEND OF THE WILD ONE. Ben has been a regular guest entertainer with Princess Cruises & P&O Cruises Australia and was seen by over eighty million viewers when he sang the New Zealand National Anthem at Sydney Olympic Park for the 2005 Rugby Union Bledisloe Cup. www.benmchugh.com
Jenna is beyond thrilled to be a part of this unauthorized original musical! Select NYC credits: AMERICA'S SWEETHEART (Musicals Tonight!), MARRY HARRY (NYMF '13), CRUEL SHOES (NYMF '12), QUEEN ESTHER (title role, Kaufman Center). Industry readings and workshops: WHISKEYLAND!, THE LAST DAYS OF GOTHAM, and SINGLE GIRL SITCOM. Regional: OLIVER!(Westchester Broadway Theatre), Heidi in [title of show] (Sandbox Theatre), and the regional premiere of MARRY HARRY (American Theatre Group). Cabaret: BROADWAY BALLYHOO (Feinstein's at the Regency), TOO LEGIT TO QUIT(Laurie Beechman Theatre), BROADWAY BY THE YEAR (Town Hall), and BROADWAY TODAY! (Kirkland Performing Arts Center). Jenna holds a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from NYU Steinhardt and is a proud member of Actor's Equity.
Graduated from the Tom Todoroff Conservatory and is thrilled to join the cast of 50 SHADES OF F****D UP! She’s had the pleasure of working with Tricia and Andrew in EROTIC BROADWAY/VINTAGE VARIETY, as well as assisting Tricia on EVE'S TURN. Recent theater credits include ROMANCE by Neil LaBute and her own original play H2O MANIFESTO for which she is a six-time grant recipient. Krista has enjoyed working with Lucinda Childs, David Gordon, Mikhail Baryshnikov, John Dapolito, Ralph Lemon, Eun Me Ahn, Shadow Box Players, Nicholas Leichter, San Gorgonio Ballet, NJ Ballet, and many more, touring nationally and internationally. She is a professional Class V whitewater river guide and is in preproduction for a feature film slated to shoot on the Colorado River with Gothic Manor Productions.
Cedric attended Stetson University receiving a B.M. in Vocal Performance. Beginning his professional career performing in reputable regional theaters, he then pursued a M.M. in Musical Theater from The Boston Conservatory. Upon graduating, Cedric toured nationally with MISS SAIGON (Ensemble), RENT (Angel) and GO DIEGO GO LIVE! (Diego). He then relocated to NYC and made his debut leading the cast of The Public Theatre's world premiere hip-hop musical, KINGDOM (Juan). He later reprised that role at The Old Globe Theatre. Other NYC Theatre credits include: YELLOW BRICK ROAD(Mountain Lion) - LUCILLE LORTEL, THE HAPPY ENBALMER (Tenzing) - NYMF, CARIDAD (Vittorio Vidal, 2013 HOLA award Outstanding Performance by a Featured Male Actor and an Audelco Nomination)-New Haarlem Arts Theatre and NEON BABY (Juanito Xtravaganza) - Pregones Theatre. Film credits include: MILLIE AND THE LORDS, ELLIOT LOVES and LAST NIGHT AT ANGELO'S.
Originally from Tokyo. Matsu started playing music in his infancy and concentrated on the drums and percussion in high school. While majoring in accounting in collage, he began working as a musician. After performing with some of the best musicians in Japan, he relocated to New York City. He enrolled the jazz performance study at City College of New York and started working professionally. Matsu has worked with the finest musicians in NYC and beyond, including Grammy, Tony, Obie winners/nominees, such as Hector "Maximo" Rodriguez (Spanish Harlem Orchestra), Liz Swados. He has shared the stage with the Roots, and Corey Glover (Living Colour). His recorded performances has been featured in a major film, the Oranges and Sony's "R&B Christmas Hits" in 2013 which also features R&B legends such as Destiny's Child and Aretha Franklin. Performing more than 260 shows per year, he has played music at: Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, Blue Note New York, Beacon Theater, the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament, Philadelphia Museum of Art. As a freelance musician, he plays various styles of music and keeps pushing musical and cultural boundaries. www.matsusound.com
Tricia's 50 SHADES OF F****D UP, A MUSICAL PARODY, has also been adapted for the screen. She choreographs BLACK BOX for ABC, starring Kelly Reilly, directed by Simon Curtis. She was recently described as "slick and earnest" in the New Yorker in regard to her newest musical, COMMITTED that had a sold out run at The West End Theater in NYC. Tricia choreographed John Turturro's feature film ROMANCE AND CIGARETTES where she received a Golden Thumb award from Roger Ebert. She wrote, directed, choreographed and dances in ROLLING IN THE RING OF FIRE, a short film. Her choreography can also be seen in Dennis Leary's RESCUE ME starring Steve Pasquale and in Lasse Hallstrom's THE HOAX, starring Richard Gere. Her choreography is also featured in Capitol One Commercials and on the Travel Channel. Her work has been recently seen at Joe's Pub, BC Beat and Stage 72 in New York City, where she directs and choreographs BROADWAY VARIETEASE.
She choreographed the Off-Broadway ZOMBIES: A MUSICAL as well as directed/choreographed I LOVE YOU, YOU'RE PERFECT, NOW CHANGE! BINGO: THE WINNING MUSICAL and POPESICAL!, which played the Lyric Theater in LA. She directed/choreographed EROTIC BROADWAY;VINTAGE VARIETY and FRANKIE AND DEBBIE LIVE AT THE MARTINI LOUNGE, and the Off Broadway TOKIO CONFIDENTIAL at Atlantic Stage 2.
Previous credits include music directing CUTMAN: A BOXING MUSICAL, LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, BROADWAY VARIETEASE, COUNTING SQUARES' WOYZECK, FRANKIE AND DEBBIE: LIVE AT THE MARTINI LOUNGE, I LOVE YOU, YOU'RE PERFECT, NOW CHANGE, BINGO: THE WINNING MUSICAL, THE DROWSY CHAPERONE, the Honeck & Moss Productions of SOCIAL INTERCOURSE, FROM BOOK TO BROADWAY, SING ME A STORY, and the 2012 and 2013 Duplex Gala. As a composer he has provided music and lyrics for COMMITTED, his latest collaboration with Tricia Brouk, as well as scores for BENT, and the short films CUBA 1961: A LOVE STORY and TIMELESS. He is the recipient of a 2014 MAC Award for his original song "The Right Time."