By Thom Geier
July 11, 2011 at 04:00 AM EDT
Carol Rosegg

It was probably only a matter of time before someone concocted a musical version of The Silence of the Lambs. The Off Off Broadway production Silence! The Musical, the brainchild of Jon and Al Kaplan with an often witty book by Hunter Bell (title of show), is pretty much exactly what you?d expect from an unauthorized musical parody of the classic 1991 thriller. Clarice Starling (Jenn Harris, a gifted mimic if not a particularly strong singer) speaks in an exaggerated facsimile of Jodie Foster’s accent and looks a little too longingly at her FBI buddy/roomie Ardelia (Deidre Goodwin). Hannibal Lecter (Brent Barrett, with a malevolent baritone and deadpan delivery) is afforded many opportunities to chew the scenery — as well as his costars. And the fattie-obsessed psycho Buffalo Bill (Stephen Bienskie) naturally sings a song called ”Put the F—ing Lotion in the Basket.”

There are some hilarious moments, though it should be noted that the most outrageous also tend to be NSFW. Consider the title of Hannibal’s opening number: ”If I Could Smell Your C—,” a nicely melodic ballad performed with a ballet-style pas de deux that painstakingly focuses on the female dancer’s crotch. There’s also a delightful low-budget Off Broadway spirit to the enterprise, as seen in Scott Pask’s simple sets and David Kaley’s costumes for the lamb chorus, which include what look like furry white towels around their forearms and black-plastic-cup hooves that clickety clack when they clap or perform faux tap routines.

As with many of the Zucker brothers’ movie parodies (Airplane!, et al), Silence! is a little longer than it needs to be and the percentage of jokes hitting their target would earn only passing marks on the Quantico firing range. Bell’s book hews pretty closely to the film, and his punchlines tend to be on the broad side, more funnyish than actually funny. (No sooner does Clarice tell her boss that she doesn’t scare easily than she jumps after the phone rings.) The subtler, self-referential jokes connect better. (”He won’t come after me,” Clarice says of Hannibal at one point. ”He’s waiting for the sequel.”) Fans of the movie, and of this sort of humor, will eat this up. Fava bean casserole and a nice Chianti are strictly optional. B

(Tickets: 866-811-4111 or

Opening date: July 9, 2011; lead performers: Jenn Harris, Brent Barrett; writers: Jon Kaplan, Al Kaplan, Hunter Bell; director: Christopher Gattelli; genre: musical, comedy