She may be soft-spoken, demure and baby-faced but Karel Marquez is ready to take on the role of the naïve-turned-sexually adventurous Anastasia Steele in the musical parody of popular novel Fifty Shades of Grey.
Dubbed 50 Shades! The Musical Parody, this visiting Broadway production makes fun of the world-wide best-seller 50 Shades of Grey trilogy by EL James, tagged by critics as “mommy porn,” and adapted to the big screen in 2015 with mixed reactions audiences.
In Manila, the show will mark Marquez’ return to the stage after she was last seen in local adaptations of High School Musical and Beauty and the Beast.
But before anyone starts imaging that Marquez will go as far as Dakota Johnson did in the movie, remember that the musical is a parody, and mostly all about fun.
“It’s not like I’m gonna be naked or something,” the 29-year-old actress and mother of two told reporters at the show’s press preview.
She then admitted that she too was hesitant to audition for the role. “I actually did research about the show before auditioning. When they called and asked me to audition, I was like, ‘What play is this?’ and when they said 50 Shades!, I said, ‘Are you sure? I can’t do that.’
“But they assured me it’s a parody and that I don’t have to do it like the movie—that we will make fun of it as a musical,” Marquez recalled.
After accepting the challenge, she listened to the play’s songs, found them very funny, and ended up getting the part.
“It’s a totally different thing! I mean, I haven’t done theater in how many years. I did High School Musical seven years ago and Beauty and the Beast, so this a 360, but it’s still a learning experience. Anastasia Steele is actually a nice character,” she added.
Pinoys in the cast
Besides Marquez, Bituin Escalante will also join 50 Shades! as Carol, a shy “book club lady” who will discover the novel alongside the audience.
Carol, with Pam and Bev comprise the book club ladies.
“These characters will represent those in the audience who have not read the book or seen the movie. So, we bounce back and forth between the two worlds of book club ladies and of 50 Shades of Grey. Anything that needs exposition, we give it to the audience [through the book club ladies],” director Al Samuels explained.
“Carol follows the journey of someone who is going through the experience of the book. She is having a hard time [dealing with divorce]in her life and we’ll see what happens after she reads 50 Shades of Grey,” Samuels further said of Escalante’s character.
For her portrayal, the director has nothing but praises for Escalante, “Bituin has just been with this role for two days but I have enjoyed her Carol more than any Carol I have ever seen, and I’ve seen the show probably 500 times.”
In reply, Escalante said, “If you star in a show like 50 Shades!, you better push the envelope. We’re not going to hold back for you! We are going to give it to you.”
Lorenz Martinez, George Schulze, and Julz Savard complete the Filipino line-up of the visiting production. The five artists will join the foreign cast comprised of Brenna Wahl, Greg Kata, Chloe Williamson, Kaitlyn Frotton, Casey Renee Rogers, and the actors who will play the famous Christian Grey,: Chris Hodgson and Isaac Saleh.
Before coming to Manila, 50 Shades! The Musical Parody had already recorded one million ticket sales in more than 3,000 performances in the US, Canada, the UK, and China. It will open on February 12 at the Carlos P. Romulo Theater, RCBC Plaza, Makati.