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Theatre Review (LA): Silence! The Musical

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Many people love horror, and this explains the hundreds if not thousands of movies about serial killers. It’s not just movies that reflect this obsession but also television shows like Criminal Minds and documentaries about known serial killers like Charles Manson or BTK or the Hillside Strangler. And there are other mass murderers who are now part of our psyche, like Jeffrey Dahmer, the Boston Strangler, John Wayne Gacy, Jack the Ripper (and Hitler). Unfortunately these aberrant personalities are out there, and perhaps we deal with this by being in their presence in the safety of a movie theatre, although given recent events, that might not be so safe either.

One of the most notorious of these monsters is Hannibal Lecter, who became famous worldwide after the 1991 movie The Silence of the Lambs. Jon and Al Kaplan have created a brilliant parody of that haunting story that starred Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins. The Brothers Kaplan wrote the music and featured it first on YouTube. Howard Stern took a fancy to it and eventually, with the help of writer Hunter Bell (title of show), created the sensation known as Silence! The Musical.

To refresh you memory, the story is about Clarice Starling’s interactions with Hannibal Lecter (Hannibal the Cannibal) to try to discover the identity of another serial killer, Buffalo Bill, who likes to capture fat girls and then use their skin to make himself clothes. By all rights, this musical should never been made or had any success, but because the writers and composers have done such a great job creating the parody, and Christopher Gattelli has done a truly imaginative job of directing and choreographing, the result is pure hilarity. Some even think it is funnier than The Book of Mormon.

Part of the success of the shows lies in the casting. Davis Gaines (Phantom of The Opera) plays Lecter with an impish glee and his magnificent baritone voice. He jumps into his numbers with exuberance, especially the outrageous “I Want To Smell Your C—“). Christine Lakin (member of the Troubadour Company) is delightful as Clarice/Jodie. Her impression of Foster is right on. But not all is funny in this musical; Stephen Bienskie (recreating his New York performance) is downright freaky as Buffalo Bill. The rest of the cast is terrific, playing various roles including a herd of sheep. Silence! The Musical will play at the Hayworth Theatre until October 7.

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