Silence! The Musical
“Silence! The Musical,” an unauthorized parody of the hit 1991 film “Silence of the Lambs” that was the sold-out hit of the 2005 Fringe Festival, is surely the only Off-Broadway show in town where audience members can purchase a “Precious Basket” in the lobby that contains a stuffed poodle, lotion and fava beans.
Unlike many other Fringe shows that get cleaned up for a commercial run, “Silence!” maintains the same scrappy, campy and extremely lowbrow style that made it so unexpectedly enjoyable in the first place. It was also a smart idea to mount the show at the intimate Theatre 80 in the East Village.
The book by Hunter Bell (“[title of show]”) faithfully follows the film. FBI trainee Clarice Starling (Jenn Harris) is recruited to analyze incarcerated serial killer and cannibal Hannibal Lecter (Brent Barrett) in hopes of learning the whereabouts of killer Buffalo Bill (Stephen Bienskie), who just kidnapped a senator’s daughter and intends to fashion a coat out of her skin.
Director-choreographer Christopher Gattelli misses no opportunity for silliness. At the top of the show, the cast addresses the audience while dressed as lambs, complete with white ears and hooves on their hands. Later, the hooves double as tap shoes. Two dancers also portray Clarice and Lecter in dream ballets. Buffalo Bill even gets to do a striptease.
The songs by Jon and Al Kaplan pump up the fun by taking famous lines from the film to ridiculous extremes.
Harris goes to great lengths to channel Jodie Foster’s accent and mannerisms, while Barrett — a Broadway baritone — is an unusual choice for Lecter. Along with a mix of earnestness and intensity, he brings matinee-idol looks and a golden voice to the role.
If you go:
“Silence! The Musical” plays at Theatre 80 St. Marks through Aug. 13. 80 St. Marks Pl., 212-352-3101, silencethemusical.com.