Silence! The Musical has had several iterations leading up to its official opening tonight. Photo: Dixie Sheridan.
Silence! The Musical — billed as the “unauthorized parody of ‘The Silence of the Lambs’” — began an open-ended run in late October at the 9th Space Theater at P.S. 122 with an official opening slated for tonight, November 15. This reviewer won’t get to see the show for another month or so, but in the meantime there’s an interesting back story that’s worth writing about.
Silence! The Musical features a book by Tony nominee Hunter Bell and music and lyrics by Jon and Al Kaplan.
The set-up is pretty straightforward: rookie FBI agent Clarice Starling matches wits with the brilliant but insane cannibal, Dr. Hannibal Lecter, to catch the serial killer known only as Buffalo Bill. Clarice must face her own demons and race the clock to unlock Lecter’s clues before another innocent girl is killed and skinned by Bill.
The film may be a hair-raising thriller that’s kept countless millions on the edges of their seats, but the danger here is the audience may end up rolling in the aisles over the parody. The film permeated the pop lexicon with delightfully creepy quotes like ‘I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti’ and, of course ‘It places the lotion in the basket.’ Those sayings are reprised in song in the musical, but the lyrics are worthy of the advisory that there is some very strong – and very funny – language used.
With this re-opening, this delicate symphony to bad taste has been turned on its ear and retold in the only way it can be — as a musical. A singing chorus of floppy eared lambs narrates the action; Buffalo Bill gleefully dances a hoedown while kidnapping hapless Catherine Martin; and even Dr. Lecter, scary as ever, sings about the life he’d like to lead someday outside the prison walls.
Fueled by a rabid cult following since the songs debuted online in 2002, Silence! was expanded into a live stage show and shattered every box-office record at the 2005 FringeNYC Festival. Winner of the NYCFringe’s Best Musical Award, Silence! The Musical combines whip-smart dialogue and shocking songs to make a musical parody of The Silence of the Lambs that’s sure to be popular with seasoned fans of the movie and FBI rookies alike.
David Garrison plays Hannibal Lecter, the role created by Brent Barrett this past summer at Theatre 80., Garrison is best known as Steve Rhoades on television’s Married With Children, but began his career as a member of the resident company at Tony Award-winning Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. He was a Tony nominee for A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine. I last saw him in Tom Stoppard’s Travesties at the Williamstown Theatre Festival.
Directed and choreographed by Christopher Gattelli, the cast is also headed by the incredible Jenn Harris, who starred in the recent Off-Broadway run. Berkshire readers will remember her from the 2008 Pageant Play at the Berkshire Theatre Festival. At that time I described her performance as “a cross between Stella and Blanche of Tennessee Williams, as envisioned perhaps by John Waters.”
Also returning are Stephen Bienskie as the notorious Buffalo Bill, Lucia Spina as Catherine Martin and Deidre Goodwin as Ardelia Mapp. The rest of the cast includes Callan Bergmann, Pamela Bob, Harry Bouvy, Ashlee Dupré, Howard Kaye, Topher Nuccio and Doug Trapp.
For tickets and performance information, go to Ovation Tix
The 9th Space Theatre
at Performance Space 122
150 First Ave. at E. 9th St.
New York, NY 10009
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4 6 to Astor Place
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