Singing the praises of “Silence!”: Off-Broadway musical big entertainment, little money by Kevin M. Thomas

Photo: Carol Rosegg

Photo: Carol Rosegg

There’s a lot of shows on and off Broadway that are commanding top dollar. And many of them are worth it. But in the flurry of movies that become theatrical musicals there are few that offer so much for so little money.”Silence!” the riotous satire of “Silence of the Lambs” is only asking for as little as $25 to see this stupendous musical in its new home at the 9th Space Theatre in the lower East side.

If you have a love of musical, like I do, and very little money like me, this is definitely the show not to miss.

Already a cult hit having had its songs debut on the internet in 2002 and then winning a top prize at the 2005 New York Fringe Festival, “Silence!” manages to include all of the plot points from the Oscar winning movie and mixes them with ribald songs that not only make you laugh but advance the plot.

The brain child of songwriting brothers Jon & Al Kaplan, “Silence!” has a wonderful pace about it and successfully manages to turn a cast of 12 into what seems like a large company – thanks to the actors playing a multitude of roles.

Photo: Carol Rosegg

Photo: Carol Rosegg

About that cast.

Over the years, Hannibal Lecters may have come and gone, but Jenn Harris has played Clarice Starling through all of the incarnations, perfecting Jodie Foster’s mannerism and bringing a great deal of humor – subtle and slapstick – to her dry role as the rookie FBI agent who is trying to solve serial murders with an imprisioned killer’s assistance. There’s never been a more spot-on spoof of a character that it makes you think that Harris might have a future doing musicals of all Jodie Foster movies. Perhaps “Nell” might be next for her. Her voice, tone and even walk reminds you of Foster’s Clarice and yet she makes her part – whether she’s being obvious or subtle with her interpretation.

The current Hannibal, David Garrison, is a master in his role and commands our presence as much as Anthony Hopkins did in his Oscar winning role. He is given some of the show’s best moments, including a laugh-out-loud bawdy number “If I Can Smell Her Cunt,” complete with dancers in which the woman’s vulva is completely prominent in the number that it really makes you wonder…can you smell it? Garrison is given the tougher job as Hannibal Lecter was already a bigger-than-life character. But Garrison manages to utter some of Hannibal’s best lines – from “fava beans” to “having an old friend for dinner” – and makes them sound fresh as if he was saying them for the very first time.

The supporting cast is also in top form especially Deidre Goodwin in her big solo number, Lucia Spina as both kidnapped Catherine and her mother and Stephen Bienskie in his Buffalo Bill role.

Hunter Bell’s book of the show also deserves kudos as he has managed to connect the Kaplan songs with great, witty dialog and he is matched by the swift direction of Christopher Gattelli that keeps the show moving forward at a brisk pace, with only a few pauses for laughter.

Move over Trey Parker and Matt Stone as there’s a new satire in town – and the tickets are more accessible!

To learn more and to get tickets, go to You can also read and hear about some of the Kaplan brother’s other spoofs on their website