When Jenn Harris took the stage, jogging in a ridiculously perfect grey sweatsuit and blocky brown wig, I breathed a great sigh of relief. It was immediately clear from her crisp physicality that my evening was in the hands of a capable lead. Since the show starts with a chorus of actors dressed as singing sheep, Jenn Harris’ entrance among the sheep fully set the tone for the night. Yes, the show was going to be ridiculous, but, no worries, it was also going to be really frickin’ good.
Harris, who plays Clarice Starling /Jodie Foster in this unauthorized parody of Silence of the Lambs, is not one of those actresses who is pretty, sings pyrotechnically and, as an afterthought, is described as having “good comic timing.” After all, many people have “good comic timing.” My uncle has “good comic timing.” But Harris is a sinewy, fierce powerhouse of clowning. She is an expert at her craft. She has the sensibilities of a sketch and improv veteran. Her acting is simple and sincere and she can make her audience laugh with just the suggestion of an eye twitch.
Having completely fallen in love with Harris’ delectable Jodie Foster impersonation, I was nervous when it came time for Clarice to meet Hannibal in his maximum-security cell. I was certain that, surely, this was the moment when this musical parody would fall apart. I thought, how could Hannibal be funny? Then we were introduced to Tony-nominated actor David Garrison in his sharp and richly nuanced portrayal of Hannibal /Anthony Hopkins. Garrison, another actor whose physicality makes him magnetic to watch, stands at attention in his tight prison jumpsuit with all the eery stillness you could hope for in a psychopath who eats people. And yet, he is hilarious. With a sonorous voice he effortlessly delivers the dirtiest of lyrics, most notably in the song, “If I Could Smell Her Cunt.”
This brings me to the third star of the evening, the writing (Music and Lyrics by Jon Kaplan and Al Kaplan, Book by Hunter Bell). The musical follows the plot of the movie and grounds itself in the movies most famous lines and moments. What makes the evening get under your skin, no pun intended, is that the musical adheres to the arc of the movie and attention has clearly been paid to the characters’ wants. You really feel how green Clarice is and how badly she wants to succeed on this case, even if she is wearing a ridiculous wig and speaking in a southern dialect that is partially a speech impediment.
What is intimated in the opening of the movie through sidelong glances from male colleagues and shots that linger just a moment too long is expressed through ass-grabbing and blatant (comical) sexual harassment in the musical. The general formula is that for every moment of subtlety and darkness in the movie, there is an absurdly exaggerated counterpart in the musical. Now, I know I’m just sort of giving you a definition of “parody” here, but what makes this musical so excel in the form is the specific moments they’ve chosen to parody. For instance, Buffalo Bill’s penchant for killing and skinning full-figured women, treated with sanctity in the movie, is exploded into a running gag of “How fat is she?” jokes and the profoundly tasteless dance number, “Are You About a Size 14?”
Silence! The Musical is expertly paced. Every scene and dance number has a driving force behind it, nothing lags. There are numerous clever theatrical conceits involving the movement of set pieces and choreography (Christopher Gatelli) that mimic the movie to amusing visual effect. The ensemble is made up of some very funny actors who, though cloyingly campy at times, keep the laughs coming frequently and move the action along with a thousand little surprise moments. Every time I thought I was ahead of the show, something totally unexpected would make me laugh and I’d realize that the show was ahead of me.
New Block of Tickets On Sale!
“As IRREVERENT, FILTHY, & FUNNY as The Book of Mormon! The difference is you can afford the tickets.” –NY Post
“Subversively Funny- Deliriously Tasty… Don’t Bring Grandma, Please!” – NY Times
SILENCE! The Musical – The Unauthorized Parody of The Silence of the Lambs
The 9th Space Theatre at P.S. 122 – 150 First Ave. @ East 9th Street
Musical Comedy is served… with fava beans and a nice Chianti. SILENCE! The Musical is a hilarious parody based on the Academy Award winning film. Rookie FBI agent Clarice Starling matches wits with the brilliant but insane cannibal, Dr. Hannibal Lecter in order to catch the serial killer known as Buffalo Bill. Clarice faces her own demons while racing the clock to unlock Lecter’s clues before another innocent girl is killed and skinned by Buffalo Bill. This laugh-out-loud naughty satire features a singing chorus of floppy-eared lambs narrating the action as Buffalo Bill gleefully dances a hoedown while kidnapping hapless Catherine Martin. Even Dr. Lecter, scary as ever, sings about the life he’d like to lead someday outside the prison walls.
“This LEWD, LYRICAL and LAUGH-YOUR-BUTT-OFF musical parody of Silence Of The Lambs shines bright!” – Daily News
“High-Level Silliness- SHREWD & SHAMELESS!” – Newsday
2- Call 212-352-3101 and mention code HHCGEN39.
3- Bring a print out of this offer to The 9th Space Theatre at P.S. 122, 150 First Avenue. Box office is open for walk-up sales. See hours below.
RESTRICTIONS: Offer valid through December 30th. Offer may be revoked at anytime and is subject to availability. Not valid on prior purchase. Offer cannot be combined with other discounts or promotions; blackout dates and restrictions may apply. Maximum of 4 tickets total with offer.
Monday/Tuesday/Thursday 4pm to 8pm
Friday 4pm to 10:30pm
Saturday 2pm to 10:30pm
Sunday 2pm to 5pm