To answer the obvious questions: Yes, “Silence! The Musical,” playing at the Phoenix Theatre, is a musical based on the hit film, “Silence of the Lambs;” yes, the style is very much a comic parody; and no, there were neither fava beans nor chianti at the concession stand (though there were other adult beverages).
This play is very funny, not too gory and totally for mature audiences, as I can’t even print the titles of its songs. The plot follows the movie almost scene for scene (but with less detail and more singing), hitting all the major points of young FBI agent Clarice Starling (Chelsea Stauffer) having to interview cannibal killer Hannibal Lecter (Paul Nicely) to get clues on how to stop serial killer Buffalo Bill (Scot Greenwell).
The musical adds a Greek chorus of singing “lambs” — Phillip Armstrong, Diane Tsao Boehm, Emily McGee, Brian Noffke and Nate Walden — who also fill supporting roles, often with their lamb ears still on.
Stauffer does a brilliant job that both honors and mocks the Jodie Foster film performance, with its tortured Appalachian accent. She’s ever the strong, confident hero, even when she’s clueless, and her playing it straight adds much to the humor.
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Can we have an Oscar for Nicely? If Anthony Hopkins were to lampoon Lecter himself, he wouldn’t have done as well. And our Hannibal expertly manages a menacing nearly-emotionless effect, even while crooning a sweet song with a filthy title.
Finally, Greenwell is gleefully over the top as our skin suit-sewing psycho. He prances the fine line between scary and silly like the true stage pro he is.
If you don’t mind the raunchy humor (though the one bit of full nudity — if you’ve seen the movie, you know what I mean — is surprisingly tastefully handled) and are up for a hilarious retread of the popular thriller, go see “Silence!” at the Phoenix, 749 N. Park Ave. in downtown Indianapolis, through Sept. 13. Call 317-635-7529 or see phoenixtheatre.org.