BY DALE REYNOLDS
Sometimes less is more.
The Broadway stage has always been the ultimate goal of every actor, singer and dancer. But the truth is that there are only so many stages, a handful of productions and not enough parts to go around.
The solution? Off-Broadway.
Not that many years ago established actors would not dream of appearing on television. Doing so signaled that their careers were approaching terminal velocity. The same held true for Off-Broadway productions. They were minimalist and skimpy; the talent was marginal, the theaters were dark and dank and the productions were a step above high school plays.
Not so any more. Although top names are regulars on the boards of Off-Broadway productions, these shows are a great breeding ground for up and coming talent. Does that mean that everything is coming up roses? Of course not! No more so than thinking that every Broadway production is a Tony winner.
Two shows currently performing are examples of how good writing, great talent and loads of enthusiasm can keep an Off-Broadway show running. Both have gone from pillar to post in locations but currently appear to have settled in.
The unlikely topic for a musical, the story of Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lechter, Jody Foster’s 1991 chilling movie, the parody has found a devoted audience. Opening in 2005 somewhere in the far reaches of “way off Broadway” and moving its incarnation through several theaters and a public school auditorium to its current location in Times Square’s Elektra Theater has its audience literally rolling in the aisles.
Its genesis is truly amazing. The show started off as an Internet parody and made its way to a small theater. That it has grown, moved to decent quarters and entertained audiences for so many years is quite telling.
Pamela Bob as fledgling FBI agent Clarice Starling (Foster’s role) is a spot on characterization. Sean McDermott as the cannibalistic Hannibal plays the role with just enough tongue-in-cheek so that the characterization doesn’t go so far overboard as to become silly.
The musical parody numbers are side-splitting although one or two of them go a bit too far overboard. One particular parody song, a truly offensive reference to a particular portion of the female anatomy, was way over done. The first rendition was great for shock value and was funny. The second was a bit much and the repetition bordered on the offensive.
The sets are minimalist (as is common for most Off-Broadway productions) but effective. The take on the original movie was well-done. The cast meshes well.
While some long-running Off-Broadway shows, such as The Fantastiks, have long since run out their string, Silence! The Musical has the chops to entertain audiences for a long time to come.
The show runs 90 minutes with no intermission. Tickets are interestingly listed at:
$79 for “The Most Moisturized;” $35 Cocktail seating (including one cocktail); $59 Regular (FBI Headquarters); and $25, “The Cheap Seats where the lambs linger.
The show only plays three times weekly: Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Sunday at 5 p.m.
Another show that has gone from pillar to post in its venue over the years is Forbidden Broadway, Alive and Kicking, now playing at the 47th Street Theater. One of the reasons this show has managed to last in one incarnation or another for three decades is the plethora of material from new shows.
The other…it’s just plain, damn funny.
The exceptionally talented cast hits hard at such shows as Book of Mormon, Death of a Salesman, Porgy and Bess, Once, Evita, Anything Goes and others, delighting the audiences with both sharp wit and great humor. Even Hugh Jackman felt the barbs for his turn in Les Miz. They should have turned on Russell Crowe instead; he was better fodder for satire.
Lindsay Nicole Chambers, a recent addition to the cast, replacing Jenny Lee Stern, has an eclectic background having played a gender-troubled velociraptor in Triassic Parc and Robin in Lysistrata Jones. She’s also done turns in Legally Blond and Hairspray.
In combo with Natalie Charlé Ellis, Scott Richard Foster and Marcus Stevens, the high energy show never slows and the laughs never stop. You don’t have to be familiar with all of the shows they are parodying. The lines and songs are mostly familiar and the twists given to them brought tears to the eyes.
The show closes on April 10, so hurry and enjoy an evening. But don’t despair; we’d be willing to bet it’ll be back along with the new crop of shows in the fall and the sharp edge of wit that will skewer the main line performers.
Tuesday at 8pm
Wednesday at 2pm
Thursday and Friday at 8pm
Saturday at 2pm and 8pm
Sunday at 3pm and 7:30pm
Pricing: $29 – $79
Box Office: TeleCharge (212) 239-6200
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