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FIFTY SHADES OF SHAKESPEARE - Conceived and Developed by Jess Shoemaker and (re)discover theatre in Chicago - is a collection of some of the hottest scenes from the entire canon of Shakespeare, combined with Improv and audience participation, framing these classic stories in a contemporarily-accessible,sex-positive, playfully kinky, queer-affirming context. 

Fifty Shades Podcast Interview - Antonio Alejandro Barroso

Cast & Crew

Katherine Harte-DeCoux...Director, Actor, Associate Producer

Doran Kanja...Assistant Director,Stage Manager


Eric Orive...Actor

Sarah Stark...Actor


A.J. Sharief...Actor


Laura Kay Henderson...Executive Producer

How the show works

Meet the Crew

Imagine this, ten of the most steamy, sexy scenes from Shakespeare - cut out of context so everyone can understand and enjoy the scenes whether you're an avid Shakespeare fan or someone who thinks zzz's when his name comes up. We promise you nobody will be sleeping during this show - now, who's sleeping together - that's another story. The answer?


It's different every. single. night. 


The production comprises of four actors, two male identifying, two female identifying, and here's the kicker, every actor has to know every line of every scene because the audience picks at the top of each show, randomly, who plays what roles that night. The actors literally don't know what lines they need to muster until 5 minutes before the show starts!

What about the action? I don't want to just watch it! Good news, there are short improv games between each scene so you can find fun in the dirty literature while refreshing your beer or making jokes with your friends, lovers, random persons in the next seats over. This is a time to enjoy the bard at his best, rowdy, raucous, and made for the people.

Katherine Harte-DeCoux


"Katherine Harte-DeCoux is originally from Flint, MI, has a BA in Theatre Performance from Western Michigan University, and studied Shakespeare in London at Marymount College. Since returning to Kalamazoo in the fall of 2016, she has been freelancing at the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo / Epic Theater, and is a Teaching Artist through Education for the Arts - KRESA and the Kalamazoo Civic Academy of Theatre Arts. As an actor she appeared in the 2017 local cast of Fifty Shades of Shakespeare, and just played Lady Macbeth at the Civic as well. 
Over the course of 15 years in New York City, she worked as an actor / director / stage combatant / playwright / producer / educator / monologue coach. Between regional work with many companies, including the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival and the New York Renaissance Faire, and her own work as the Founder and Producing Artistic Director of Mortal Folly Theatre and the Merely Players performance salon, she has directed and/or otherwise collaborated upon countless Shakespeare works. She also produced and directed the world premiere of Over Here at the 2014 NYC Fringe festival, recognized as a Best Bet from Theatre is Easy; other new work includes BROADSIDE! Women of Wit & Will - a collection of historically-inspired female-driven shorts at the Looking Glass Theatre - including her own play Lieutenant Nun: The Thrilling Adventures of Catalina de Erauso. She earned her MFA in Directing Theater from Brooklyn College in 2015; favorite projects there include Gi60: the International One-Minute Play Festival, The Vagina Monologues, and Almost, Maine." 

Sarah Stark


"Sarah Stark is thrilled to be joining the cast of Fifty Shades of Shakespeare for her first appearance with Bare Backstage Productions.  Sarah has a B.A. in Theatre and English from Grand Valley State University.  She studied in Cambridge, MA with professors from the Moscow Art Theatre in 2013, joined the touring troupe of Michigan Shakespeare Festival for a season in 2017, is the the past co-founder and president of The Stark Turn Players, and currently is a board member and the chair of P.R. & Marketing, as well as a member of the repertory acting company, for the Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company.


A few favorite past performances include Marc Antony in Julius Caesar (PCSC), Iachimo in Cymbeline (PCSC), Ophelia in Hamlet (PCSC), Helena in a A Midsummer Night’s Dream (PCSC - a role for which she won the Broadway World Detroit Regional award in 2014 for Best Shakespearean Performance), Lady Macbeth in Macbeth (MSF), Catwoman in Queen of the City (Phoenix Reborn Films), and Nancy Thompson in Nightmare, the Musical (STP).


Additional career highlights include original choreography credits devising ballroom dance fusion numbers for STP and conceptually designing and shooting seasonal marketing materials for PCSC. Full-time Sarah works as a brand ambassador for BIGGBY COFFEE.

A.J. Sharief


"A native of Kalamazoo, A.J. Sharief has been performing locally for over fifteen years as an actor, singer, dancer, and musician. Though a relative newcomer to the works of Shakespeare, he most recently portrayed of Malcolm in Macbeth at the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre last October, and is thrilled to be working with this new professional company, especially since Fifty Shades of Shakespeare is fittingly enough his 69th production. Some favorite credits include Judas in Godspell (Beautiful City Players), Jesus Pena in Hands on a Hardbody (Kalamazoo Civic Theatre), Valentin in Kiss of the Spiderwoman (Studio 246), Corny Collins in Hairspray (Center Stage Theatre), and Gaston in Disney’s Beauty & the Beast (Portage Northern High School), with his favorite role to date being Jimmy in Reefer Madness (Eastern Michigan University). Other professional training and experience includes Close-up Improve Group in Ypsilanti, Michigan; the Theatre Arts Program at Eastern Michigan University; Character/Show performer training in the Walt Disney World College Program; and playing competitive pickleball (look it up, it's worth a quick google!). He would like to thank his entire company, friends, and family for all of their love and support through it all."

Doran Konja

Assistant Director/Stage Manager

"Doran is a theatre student at Western Michigan University. He has worked professionally with Shakespeare in Detroit as the stage manager for their summer shows, directed footlights at Western, and assistant directed some mainstage  productions as well  at Western. As a queer, sex-positive, person of color who loves classics he is excited to be a part of Fifty Shades of Shakespeare!"

Eric Orive


"This is Eric's debut with Bare Back Productions and with 50 Shades. made his Pigeon Creek debut performance as in 2015; a production remounted this past Summer at The Rose Theatre at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp.


He is currently a repertory member of the Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company (PCSC) based out of Grand Haven, MI. Previous roles with PCSC include: Cornelius/Philario/Lord/Captain/Jailer in Cymbeline, Demetrius/Cobweb in A Midsummer NIght’s Dream, Balthazar/Duke in The Merchant Of Venice, Don Pedro in Much Ado About Nothing, Oliver in As You Like It, Worchester/Chief Justice in a conflation of Henry IV Parts 1&2, Orsino in Twelfth Night, Crabtree in The School For Scandal, Antonio in The Tempest, and Flavius/Decius Brutus/Cato/Dardinius in Julius Caesar


Eric has also worked with Water Works Theatre Shakespeare Royal Oak, the Michigan Shakespeare Festival’s Touring Company, and with The Stark Turn Players in their musical parody productions of Poltergeist and Halloween.


He has also performed in Gilda's LaughFest in the amateur stand-up showcases as well as various parts of the Midwest, Canada, and New York where he his originally from.


When not on stage, Eric enjoys cooking, snowboarding, hiking, watching sports with friends, pinching babies, and traveling to places that don't have snow.


Eric attended Oakland University for Theatre Performance.  He would like to thank his loving sisters, Mother, and his twin nieces Audri and Gabby for their support."

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