You better watch out for Santa Lecter!

By Bridgette M. Redman

The Santa stalking the Who Wants Cake? stage in Ferndale is far creepier than just a brightly dressed home invader who spies on children throughout the year to gauge their naughtiness levels.

No, their Santa is in a high-security prison where he is subjected to psychological tests by a rude elf. His crime? Killing and eating several naughty children one Christmas Eve while making his rounds. Now, as Clarice Starling, the daughter of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, comes to him for help in solving the Skinner serial killings, he wants her help to rehabilitate him so that children will believe in him once more.

"Silent Night of the Lambs" is a campy romp through famous Christmas stories such as "A Christmas Carol," "Frosty the Snowman," and "The Little Match Girl" while following the plot line of the thriller novel and movie "Silence of the Lambs." Ryan Landry's script also mixes in a few other stories and modern political figures for good measure.

Fans of the 1991 movie will appreciate Melissa Beckwith's spot-on imitations of Jodie Foster's voice and mannerisms and the way in which Dave Davies invokes the creepiness of Anthony Hopkins. Both are delightfully humorous in their recreation of FBI recruit Clarice Starling and serial killer Hannibal Lecter. Then there is the talented ensemble who fully commits to each groaner of a plot twist, whether it is the recreation of a Christmas Carol, a drunken Rudolph-turned-wife-beater, a Blitzen who is horny in more places than just her head, or the Lady Gaga making ludicrous demands. Genevieve Jona is the perfect victim as Macy Penney, daughter of JC Penney, who whines and cries while held hostage by Chris Berryman's character - the Skinner.

"Silent Night of the Lambs" takes aim with a double-barrel shot gun at both the horror genre and the touching Christmas morality movies. Director Joe Plambeck and Dyan Bailey collaborated on projections and video that provided a myriad of backgrounds so that a unit set can accommodate all of the play's scenes with only a few speedy set changes.

At times the script feels a bit forced, and it is only the commitment of the actors that keeps the play from eroding into sketch comedy. Landry seemed unable to resist throwing in extraneous bits of pop culture and political humor that fell flat.

When Landry sticks to the story arc of "Silence of the Lambs," the play is effective as a spoof and thoroughly entertains in true Who Wants Cake? style.

REVIEW:

'Silent Night of the Lambs'

Who Wants Cake? at The Ringwald Theatre, 22742 Woodward Ave., Ferndale. Friday-Monday through Dec. 19. $10-20. 248-545-5545. http://www.whowantscaketheatre.com

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