Spank! The Fifty Shades Parody
Danielle Trzcinski plays Tasha Woode, an innocent young woman seduced by a powerful man with unusual hobbies, in Spank! The Fifty Shades Parody. The comedy comes to the Strand-Capitol stage Jan. 31. (Paul Schnaittacher)
Psst! Ladies, pass the word — “Fifty Shades of Grey,” the best-selling book by E.L. James that was practically required reading in 2012 for fans and naysayers alike, is coming to the Strand-Capitol stage.

Well, sort of.

“Spank! The Fifty Shades Parody” is an unauthorized musical comedy poking fun at the popular mainstream S&M — sadism and melodrama, am I right? — tale, which itself started out as “Twilight” fanfiction and evolved into an international phenomenon.

York County hasn't been immune to the lure of naive college graduate Anastasia Steele and her gazillionaire boyfriend with kinky tastes, Christian Grey. Since the county library system acquired ebook copies of “Fifty Shades of Grey” in March and print copies in April, the title has been checked out more than 800 times. And although the hold requests for the first book have dwindled, the sequels — “Fifty Shades Darker” and “Fifty Shades Freed” — are still sought after on area ebook lists, with more than 80 readers waiting for each.

Starring: “Spank!” star Danielle Trzcinski, who plays Ana's parody counterpart, Tasha Woode, has plenty of experience with the story herself.

“I'm definitely one of the millions of women who've read this book. ... I can't tell you how many times I saw that book on the subway” in New York, she says in a recent phone interview. “When I tell people what show I'm in, whether it be my mom or my mom's friends or my grandma, everybody knows what the show is. (The readers) have this common bond.”

Landing the part prompted her to take a fresh look at the story — for “research.”

“I think once you do the show and you re-read the books, you have a totally different take on it,” she says. “The first time I read it, I loved it, but the second time I read it, I definitely saw the humor.”

As a parody, “Spank!” cranks the humor to its highest setting.

“Since this is a parody and everything is heightened, I'm not just clueless, I'm incredibly clueless” as the leading lady, Trzcinski says. “And our leading man isn't just sexy, but he's incredibly sexy.”

The action on stage gets a little heated, she teases.

“There's a very sexy striptease that our lead guy does, so the women go crazy,” she says. “It's like ‘Saturday Night Live' meets Chippendales. ... It gets steamy at parts, but it's also so funny.”

All in good fun: Fans feeling defensive about the book, which has been derided as “mommy porn” and mocked for bad writing, poor plotting and unsafe S&M practices, can rest easy. The “Spank!” creators and cast aren't taking mean-spirited jabs at the characters or the author, Trzcinski says.

“In the show, we never criticize the story or the writing. We celebrate it, we go along the journey and have fun with it,” she says. “We obviously love the book.”

She loves the job, too, with fun onstage and off.

“The other cast members are so funny, so it's so hard to keep a straight face,” she says. And the show itself is different every night, from the occasional improv line by the cast to the challenges tossed out by the crowd's reactions. “People are so funny, people who come to the show, and that definitely keeps the show very fresh because we do a Q&A interview section where we ask people's opinions of what they would do in this situation.”

The fun continues after the show, when the cast does a meet-and-greet with fans that offers a special treat.

“We talk to everyone, we take photos, we sign autographs ... and there's a special photography section where you can take a photo with our leading man,” Trzcinski says. “Women show up in silver ties, they bring handcuffs ... these women who are schoolteachers and soccer moms are getting tied up and way into this photo op.”

But attendees don't have to be wearing a “Laters, Baby” T-shirt to enjoy the parody.

“Even if you haven't read the books, it's still going to be a funny show,” she says.

And what about the book's cliffhanger ending?

“We created our own ending,” Trzcinski says. “It's not the same as the book, and you might be surprised at how sweet it is.”

See the show



“Spank! The Fifty Shades Parody,” an unauthorized musical comedy based on E.L. James' “Fifty Shades of Grey,” will stop in York at 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 31, for a show at the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center, 50 N. George St.

Pre-show cocktails will be available, and fans can meet the cast and pose for photos with the leading man after the show.

Tickets are $33.50 to $43.50.

For more information, visit www.strandcapitol.org or call (717) 846-1111.

“Spank!” isn't the only “Fifty Shades” parody in York; the library has F.L. Fowler's “Fifty Shades of Chicken” — a parody cookbook featuring recipes with trussed-up birds — in its collection.

Visit www.yorklibraries.org or call your local library branch for more reading suggestions.

— Reach Mel Barber at mbarber@yorkdispatch.com.