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Silence! The Musical puts a daring spin on a thriller classic

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It might be difficult to write a thoughtful review of a production when its most memorable number is “If I Could Smell Her Cunt,” but if your comedy tastes run toward the raunchy, you won’t have any trouble savoring every minute of Silence! The Musical.

An award-winning musical comedy created by Jon and Al Kaplan as a parody of the 1991 classic film The Silence of the Lambs, Silence! is silly, gross and, at times, wickedly funny. OKC Theatre Company, living up to every inch of its reputation for tackling daring scripts, handles the absurd and profane romp with considerable aplomb.

The opening number, “Silence!,” is performed by The Lambs, a kind of Greek chorus that sets the scenes throughout the play.

Six singers, dressed in black sweats and woolen caps with floppy ears, all play multiple roles that float in and out of the lives of FBI agent Clarice Starling and her interview subject, Dr. Hannibal Lecter.

It’s a difficult task in the intimate, 100-seat CitySpace Theatre and isn’t easily performed or choreographed, but the cast and director Kory Kight-Pagala handled the rapid-fire character handoffs and seamless, minimal scene changes admirably.

“Thish Ish It”

The scene changes, costumes and music (all minimal to the point of being abstract) were written into the script as part of the production’s overall aesthetic, and indeed, nothing is off-limits as far as one-liners go.

This includes Megan Montgomery’s syrupy Jodie Foster impersonation. As Starling, the FBI agent hot on the trail of serial killer Buffalo Bill, Montgomery’s first solo is “Thish Ish It,” sung with hilarious earnestness in Foster’s horrible, lisping, West Virginia brogue.

Montgomery carries the lead role well throughout, stomping around in a bad wig and a knit pantsuit so atrocious it’s unbelievable Lecter can abide being in the same room with her.

Even in such a small venue, however, her voice was a little weak during some of the busier numbers, and it was difficult to discern her lines from the chorus that traipsed and sang around her.

Although all of the actors can sing, none particularly amaze with their vocal prowess, but that’s hardly the point of this production.

The point is the script, which is filled with clever lines, double entendres, silly sight gags and subtle twists of the film’s original dialogue. It’s why song lyrics might be slightly more important than song performance and dialing things down a bit on stage might have helped sell some of Montgomery’s better jokes.

“Quid Pro Quo”

Some of the musical’s funniest moments come during Starling’s interactions with Lecter, played with a creepy, very funny straight-man aesthetic by Lance Overdorff.

He doesn’t mimic Anthony Hopkins’ Lecter, but he does share the actor’s understated, businesslike cadence when portraying the famous cannibal. His interactions with the more physical Montgomery are wonderfully balanced, strong enough to move the plot along rapidly and very often cover-your-mouth hilarious.

There’s no better example than the aforementioned “If I Could Smell Her Cunt,” a kind of tender love song Lecter sings to and about Clarice in an aside. Lovingly performed in Overdorff’s beautiful, high tenor voice, there are so many filthy lines in this song that it’s unbelievable I’ve been singing it since the play ended.

But I have, because it’s very pretty, wonderfully performed and an honest-to-god earworm.

Most of the songs are, actually. “Quid Pro Quo,” a dark and atmospheric tango of a duet between Montgomery and Overdorff, is a snappy, taut plot-mover reminiscent of The Lion King’s “Be Prepared.”

“Are You About a Size 14?,” the song about how Buffalo Bill chooses his victims, is so rollicking and chipper, I could imagine the Rockettes kicking on the final chorus.

Wil Rogers plays Buffalo Bill with the camp and self-assurance of a famous drag queen, and he’s the biggest scene-stealer of the show.

He’s also the beneficiary of the production’s two funniest songs: “I’d Fuck Me” and “Put the Fucking Lotion in the Basket.” The latter, performed perfectly by Rogers and Kaylan Ferrell (as Catherine Martin, Bill’s victim) is as obscenely funny as anything you’ll see this year.

At the end of the night, the raunch is the best part of Silence!

The play’s funniest, most well-crafted lines come during the songs, and it seems at times as if the Kaplans just decided to phone in some of the dialogue that came in between.

The speaking scenes are filled with jokes, but they’re not as entertaining and often rely on puns, sight gags or formulaic asides.

A series of “your mama’s so fat” jokes made me wince after my ear had been attuned to the script’s clever vulgarity.

Most of that is hardly the actors’ fault, though, and with a few small exceptions, Silence! kept me laughing all evening.

The beauty of this play lies in its filth. If you don’t mind getting dirty, get in and roll around.

You won’t regret it.

Print Headline: Obscenely funny, Silence! The Musical is as delightful as it is disgusting, making it flavorful fare for its audience.

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