Silence! The Musical (showing now through March 6 at the Lab Theater) is almost definitely the best parody musical based on a horror film that you'll see this year.
Released in 1991, The Silence of the Lambs won five Oscars and scared the hell out of millions of people. Now that it's an indelible part of pop culture, why not make it a musical? And I can't think of a better local theater than Minneapolis Musical Theatre (and Steven Meerdink's Bitter Boy Productions) to take on this show.
You know the story: FBI fledgling Clarice Starling is sought out to interview famed serial killer Hannibal Lecter in order to find yet another serial killer. Although much of the original movie's script has become go-to pop culture punchlines (liver with fava beans and Chianti, it puts the lotion in the basket, ffffffftttttt) the movie is still genuinely disturbing.
|Hannibal Lecter (Tim Kuehl) watches as Clarice |
Starling (Emily Jabas) admires his artwork. (photos: Unser Imagery)
And then, if you're Minneapolis Musical Theatre, which specialize in musicals rarely seen by Twin Cities audiences (their tagline is "Rare Musicals. Well Done."), you give it 112%. Every member of the cast performs with utter commitment and director Steven Meerdink creates the perfect tone.
The cast hits every joke in the script perfectly, and finds a few laughs that probably aren't in the script, yet never ever milks a joke. The show also has musical theater references that theater fans will love to pick out. You'll note references to Bob Fosse's choreography, Will Rogers Follies, Evita, Cats, and the King and I. These nods add an additional layer of fun to an already hilarious show.
|Clarice Starling gets her Fosse on with the chorus of lambs.|
Did we not mention the chorus of lambs?
My personal favorite performance was by Ryan London Levin as Buffalo Bill. Originally played by Ted Levine in a balls-out, Gene Loves Jezebel-dancing, putting-the-lotion-in-the-basket, Precious-loving performance, Buffalo Bill is one of the most vivid characters in horror. Starting with his first song, "Are You About a Size 14?", Levin gives everything he has to this character and hits it perfectly. He gets Levine's (Levine/Levin/WHAT?) weird mumbly voice perfectly right, and actually has a fantastic singing voice. The entire chorus, including Gregory Adam (so good in MMT's Eating Raoul) and Daniel Lundin (excellent in this season's Murder Ballad) give amazing performances in a variety of roles.
The show is at the Lab Theater, which I hope Minneapolis Musical Theatre can use for future shows. The warm and inviting--but bare bones and industrial--space is perfect for a show like this. The beautifully constructed set by Darren Hensel made perfect use of the space, and the props by Valerie Larche lend a realistic (yet over-the-top) tone to the production.
|Starling and Lecter face off through the high-security window.|
PS: Every program received a postcard to help promote the show with a 20% off discount code. I don't feel right posting the code, but you could always mention you read about the discount in this review from us and maybe the box office will give it to you. Or check MMT's Facebook page for deals.
(co-written by KRL, Carly and Jules)