When you think of a musical, you can’t help but imagine a serial killing cannibal singing about female genitalia. Am I wrong? Well, Silence! The Musical will have you thinking differently. Cloud 9 Theatricals, in association with Lang Entertainment Group and Ray of Light Theatre, has brought this inventive piece to the San Francisco stage. It’s been enjoyed so much that its original closing date of Saturday, February 25 was extended until Saturday, March 18.
If you haven’t seen the movie it’s satirizing, the story revolves around rookie FBI agent Clarice Starling (Jodi Foster). She’s eager to shed her past and advance in her career. She gets assigned to the Behavioral Science Unit to work under Jack Crawford. She’s still wet behind the ears and gets assigned to question cannibal serial killer, Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins). Dr. Lecter is a psychiatrist who can manipulate victims to the point of suicide. There’s another serial killer on the loose by the name of Buffalo Bill, and it’s believed that Lecter has the clues to catch him, even though he’s been behind bars for several years. The five victims Buffalo Bill has killed are overweight, young, and found drowned, missing large strips of skin. Sending Starling in is a desperate attempt to save his latest victim, Catherine Martin. Perfect premise for a comical musical, don’t you think?
The show opens up with a pack of dancing lambs and Clarice Starling played by Anne Norland on a run. Norland will have you rolling in the aisles with her impersonation, which is as much about Jodie Foster as it is her as the movie character, Clarice. The lambs are dancing away and the number ends with a Lamb Chop puppet being raised in the air by Starling with tape on its mouth. The door to puns is thrown wide open and they only get more amusing throughout the show.
Fans of the movie will be happy to hear that the infamous scene that had all tongues talking when the movie came out is included. Brian Watson as Buffalo Bill is a show highlight with that re-enacted visual, and it will be etched in your brain for longer than you will hope for. A later scene contains a re-appearance from an open robed Watson in case the audience didn’t get enough the first time. All the actors were wonderful in their respective roles so it’s hard to say that anyone stood out. Scott Hayes as Dr. Hannibal Lecter had good chemistry with Norland and the actors who played dual roles including being lambs were on point in their comedic timing.
However, there was some fatigue in the creativity, which resulted in “humor” that leaned towards insulting. There were an excessive amount of fat jokes due to the fact that Buffalo Bill targets overweight women. In this case, a size 14 means you have a lot of junk in the trunk. There was laughter for many of the jokes until one mentioning how unfortunate it was the women were fat, given that they had pretty faces. This was delivered by the Starling character and met with hesitant laughter mixed in with moans and groans. It was refreshing to see that lazy “jokes” like this one are not as big a hit as they use to be. There are plenty of clever puns and references and this one line is neither.
It’s definitely a fun night out regardless of the minor flaws. Be warned, you’re allowed drinks in the theater but, I’d recommend holding off until after, you may end up spitting up on the person in front of you. I’m still having giggle fits at the image of poor lamb chop gagged, and that was the opening number.
Shows take place on Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m. and Saturdays at 7 and 10 p.m. Tickets range in price from $35– $55 and are available online at www.silencethemusicalsf.com and at the Victoria Theatre box office (2961 16th St.) one-hour prior to performance time. Ticket prices are subject to change without notice.