Chris Patton of Standing Room Only Productions thinks that we may be in an era where Broadway-style composers and producers will turn just about any film they can get their hands on into a musical.
From that perspective, it’s easy to see why, in 2005, Jon and Al Kaplan turned the classic movie Silence of the Lambs into an outrageously comedic musical called Silence! The Musical.
“It really seems like producers will musicalize any film. The Kaplans were poking fun at that: ‘Let’s take the most serious film we can think of and turn it into a ridiculous musical comedy,’” Patton says.
“I didn’t realize how funny the show was until I approached it from a directorial standpoint and spent time with the book. It’s one of those laugh-a-minute, Airplane-style scripts.”
The award-winning show will have its Texas premiere on June 9 with Standing Room Only Productions’ three-week run at the Obsidian Theater, 3522 White Oak.
Patton was originally cast in the show, but, because of a conflict with some of the performance dates, he had to step away. Fortunately for him, that turned out to be perfect timing.
“They lost the [original] director the same week they lost me, and Rachel [Landon, S.R.O.P.’s director of business and artistic development] asked me if I could direct it. I hadn’t even thought about it, but I thought, ‘Why not?’ It’s been fast and furious, but we find ourselves in a really good place,” Patton says.
Patton is taking an unusual approach to the production by using a lowbrow, minimalist style; or, in other words, he’s intentionally making it look low-budget, which is an unexpected aesthetic for a show that also features tap-dancing lambs.
“I’ve really pushed for this concept of a rough theater production. What we’re doing is extremely stripped-down and purposefully low-rent; it’s very presentational. Everything is done with actors and ridiculous props. There’s no spectacle or flash to it,” Patton says.
Moreover, there’s not a lot in the set that will give clues about scene changes to the audience.
“It’s all about the actors showing the audience where they are through their actions, and their bodies are so engaged in telling the story.”
Silence! The Musical is the last show of a very diverse season for Standing Room Only Productions, which included a full-blown rock show and a sultry, Prohibition-era piece that explores the gay subculture of the 1920s through magical realism.
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“The season opened with American Idiot, which was one of the more ambitious things that have been mounted in Obsidian – it’s a full rock opera with rock concert lighting – then continued with Speakeasy, which did an amazing job of immersing the audience in a speakeasy for the night. To end with something that’s stripped down and barebones and about nothing but making people laugh is an interesting button; we end on a funny note for the summer.”
Silence! is not just a funny note, either, but a fairly bawdy one, too, Patton says.
“It makes The Book of Mormon blush at some point. This show is exceptionally blue and clever, with wit, intelligence and winks and nods to the audience.”
Performances are scheduled at 8 p.m. June 9 through 11, June 13, June 16 through 18, and June 23 through 25; and 3 p.m. June 19 at Obsidian Theater, 3522 White Oak, 713-300-2358, obsidiantheater.org. $27.50 to $37.50. No children allowed. Please click here to purchase tickets.