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Exclusive Interview With Tiffany Dissette From '50 Shades!'

Emily Mae Czachor |
March 4, 2014 | 1:43 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter


Tiffany (pictured center) as Pam, outrageously portraying an expression of appalled intrigue at the content of 50 Shades of Grey. (Photo by Ed Krieger)
Tiffany (pictured center) as Pam, outrageously portraying an expression of appalled intrigue at the content of 50 Shades of Grey. (Photo by Ed Krieger)
Tiffany Dissette knows how to think on her feet. The actress, who plays Pam in "50 Shades! The Musical," a stage adaptation of the raunchy book series of the same name, has learned that an eccentric performance often garners an equally unexpected response. 

Although Tiffany was admittedly less-than-immersed in the infamous story by E.L. James, she deemed the work of fiction "definitely entertaining." After reading the hilarious "50 Shades!" script, Tiffany was eager to have the opportunity to demonstrate her vocal and comedic chops as Pam. Her midwestern mother was not initially thrilled at the idea of her daughter performing in a musical based on an erotic romance novel, but came to understand that "50 Shades!" adds an extra layer of absurdity to the franchise—it is a parody. "It's a musical comedy," laughed Tiffany, "It's kind of poking fun at the book. But it is very raunchy humor." The gritty, intense sexual encounters are replaced by outlandish expressions largely based upon critiques of the books.

The audience often counters the cast and crew in its ostentatious behavior. Because many of the audience members are fans of the novels, they frequently cause a commotion during performances with their flamboyant costumes and props. "Sometimes we'll get cult followers," observed Tiffany of her audience, "These women come in with masks and grey ties and riding crops. They're coming in for ladies night." Tiffany remembers a particularly notable instance in which a group of middle-aged women in the audience threw underwear onto the stage at the sight of the beloved Christian Grey. The women, who seemed to have purchased a collection of panties specifically for the occasion, tossed the undergarments at the actors in the middle of a scene. "I mean, how can you not respond to that?" Tiffany said, recalling that while the actors attempted to remain in character, the event was too flamboyant to ignore. 

As a stage actress, Tiffany has learned that preparedness for change is of utmost importance. "It's a different audience every night," she said, "That means different parts of the show are constantly changing. It keeps you on your toes." While the cast frequently experiences unexpected viewer responses like the flying panties, they have also been subject to chance obstructions. During a recent performance, a stray bat entered the theater and disrupted the stage. While it was impossible to ignore such an interruption, the actors proceeded with their rehearsed procedure.

The entire show is structured around the concept of "flying by the seat of your pants," as Tiffany fondly said of the cast's improvisation. Because "50 Shades!" was originally created by a team of improvisors, there are portions of the performances that are spontaneous. This fresh energy prevents anyone in the room from boredom. "I know exactly what's going to happen," said Tiffany, "and I'm still backstage laughing every night."

For Tiffany, the past six months of touring have been a learning experience. Through onstage mishaps, unexpected audience behavior, and comedic interludes, she sincerely remarked that "it has been nothing short of an absolute blast." "50 Shades! The Musical" is playing at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Los Angeles through March 30.  

Reach Staff Reporter Emily Mae Czachor here



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