Sunday, January 29, 2012

Silence Full of Laughter

Going to the theater is about escaping our everyday lives and getting lost for a few hours (or in the case of Silence! The Musical 90 minutes). Those that know me can attest to the fact I'm drawn to tragedy and angst on stage. But this weekend, the comedies I saw were just what the doctor ordered. From Priscilla on Saturday to Silence! on Sunday, it was a weekend full of laughs.

Yes, they have created a musical based on the much loved film The Silence of the Lambs...that's right, musical! Doing a parody of a work takes a lot of know-how and control. Like an SNL skit that goes too long, they can get old fast. But the creative team behind this show teetered on that line in a great way - keeping the audience engaged for all 90 minutes of the intermission-less play. 10 people play so many roles, you'll think you're watching an old Carol Burnett show. For those that know the movie well, you will laugh until your sides hurt from the way these actors (many of them from Broadway including David Garrison giving an awesome Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal (that many will remember from Married With Children). One reason this show works so well is the fact the music is catchy (even some great ballads) complete with a dream 'See You Next Tuesday' Ballet! Jon Kaplan & Al Kaplan have written a great score and Hunter Bell (from [title of show] fame) a clever book.

I've spent many weekends seeing those silly 11:30 pm shows that run at a NY cabaret that only cater to a certain clientele. This show surpassed those: yet still perform in an Off-OFF Broadway venue in the East Village, use very limited sets and props (but use them brilliantly), and has a very talented cast of people working their rears off! It truly demonstrates what New York Theater is about: diversity at its best. You can go uptown and spend hundreds of dollars on a flashy Broadway show when you are in the mood or find these wonderful (I'll use the word: "indie") small shows that have won awards (The Fringe Festival in 2005) and are entertaining audiences on a completely different level. 

And sometimes - that's exactly what we want. As a composer who was in the BMI Musical Theater Workshop and spent time attempting to get musicals presented in NY, I applaud these creators who can not only get a show mounted - but then get a full downtown run even seven years after presenting at Fringe. And as an indie writer - I always want to support those people in whatever medium they are presenting in.

Kudos to all involved! I love seeing Deidre Goodwin (who has wowed audiences over and over in Chicago) dressed up like a lamb and giving a nod to that show she played numerous times as well as the lead Jenn Harris (who I've never seen) that had me rolling with every nuance of Jodie Foster that she made.  

I never like to sit on the front row of a show, but this was well worth it: we were in the FBI seats! I say if you want a laugh and you know the movie where you can recite the lines; (and not easily offended by language or partial nudity) you're going to love it.

Check out the video on their website

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