All women have ways of escaping the banality of the everyday routine. We go to the gym, internet shop or use our imaginations and actually sit down and read a book, whether it be an actual hardcover or a Kindle download. It would appear that housewives and single women alike are seriously lacking some interesting playtime in the bedroom in order to pick up Fifty Shades of Grey. Although I personally find the book somewhat contrived and the prose less than compelling, millions of women worldwide have devoured the story of the young woman who gets wrapped up in a sado-masochistic relationship with a billionaire. So when the opportunity arose to interview Michele Miracle, who portrays E.B. Janet in the parody, Spank Harder! The Sequel, I jumped at it.
Michele Miracle is originally from Denver and has a long history of sketch, stand-up and improv comedy. She took the time to explain to me the difference between them. “Each type of show is different, so if it’s an improv show, you know the rules of the game and trust that whatever comes out of your mouth [in that] you’ll be able to make it work,” said Miracle. “With a scripted show, obviously you have to know your lines and you have to be mentally prepared to say them. In general, it takes a little bit of moxie and crazy in order to be good.”
Since this is the sequel to the original Spank!, I was interested to know how she got involved in this production. “Well, I have a very good friend who was in the original show that came here last year and they were looking for an understudy and she asked to see me and then that fell through,” she recalled. “They wrote the sequel and they were interested in me for that. I auditioned for them again and got lucky.”
Miracle jokes about being one of the more mature cast members but she does love playing the main character and setting the tone for the performance. “It’s really fun, more fun than that should be legal. She is tapping into the psyche or dark side of all those happily married housewives who want an escape. I think the actual author and this character who is based on her has a wink and a nod to the audience that says ‘Hey, we’re in this together so let’s just cut loose and have fun.’” She is also quick to support the premise of the novel. “It’s got this element of escapism and honestly I think because it was so popular, that got even more people interested. Obviously people loved the book because they are the ones that come to the show,” she explained. “For someone who may have never read a book like that or who has never dabbled in that sort of deviance it is good foray into that world and it’s a safe bet. It’s naughty and fun and it presents an escape.”
Miracle admits that one of the main challenges about performing live theater is making sure the audience is having fun and she draws on her background to make that happen. “As a stand up and improviser, I have that third eye or sixth sense, so I can tell when they’re checking out a bit or when they’re really into it and feeling what the audience needs. Do we need to pick up the pace a bit? I feel as if I need to engage the audience and give them what they need.” Her reward comes with knowing that the audience can relate to her character and maybe even see a bit of themselves in her.
Spank Harder! does an excellent job of bringing the audience up to speed for those who have not read the book and Miracle is hilarious in her role. She also gets to get up close and personal with some of her male collegues who look as if they do nothing but work out and eat fat free; the bulging biceps and six pack abs are plentiful. The audience was mostly comprised of women, but like me, there were some ladies who chose to make it a date night. Miracle describes those men as "coming kicking and screaming" but also admits that they can benefit afterwards, as the show just might prove to be an unexpected aphrodisiac.
Miracle has intentions of playing this character as long as she can despite the fact that she has never met Ms. James. “I am sure that the producers may have heard from her lawyers at some point,” she joked. “I would love if she came to see it. I think it would be a riot and I think she’d really enjoy it. Again, it’s not making fun of the book, it’s celebrating it in a way that likes that’s really tapping into what her audience loves, giving them something that they can take a picture with at the end of the show and put the book back on the shelf.”
Spank Harder! The Sequel is currently playing at Harrah’s downtown and various other venues across the country. Click here for more information.
All photos are courtesy of Paul Schnaittacher.