Scene: Seen and heard in Downtown Lynn

William Shatner performs his monologue during his show “Shatners World: We Just Live In It” at the Lynn Auditorium on Sunday night. Photo by Paula Muller.

By Bill Brotherton

LYNN — Do anything fun on Sunday? I spent the day downtown, admiring the work of local artists, howling at an outrageous musical based on “Silence of the Lambs” and enjoying William Shatner’s entertaining one-man show.

In downtown Lynn? Really? Word about the burgeoning arts scene here is busting out beyond the city’s borders. Many of the folks I chatted with at the “Fine Artists of the Lydia Pinkham” opening reception in the LynnArts gallery took the train up from Boston or Newburyport. And the majority of those laughing at “Silence! The Musical” and Shatner’s show-biz stories were out-of-towners.

The city of Lynn is increasingly becoming a destination for arts lovers. And at suppertime many  downtown restaurants were busy, filled with “Star Trek” aficionados anxiously awaiting the Lynn Auditorium show by their hero, Captain Kirk.

Add in the Lynn Museum, which had a German film crew onsite Sunday, numerous programs at North Shore Community College, a growing music scene and more, and it’s obvious there’s a lot happening here.

First stop on Sunday was the LynnArts building on Exchange Street, where more than 100 persons mingled, sipped wine, ate munchies and applauded the work of eight artists whose studios are in the Lydia Pinkham Building. The paintings on the gallery’s walls by Jackie Diehl, Rolf Flor, Christine Johnson, Jill Madigan, Freda Nemirovsky and Kathy Speranza drew much praise, as did the photographs by Todd Gieg and the wood sculptures by Mary Spitzer.

The “Fine Artists of the Lydia Pinkham” show continues through Nov. 15. Admission is free.

Next was a walk down the hallway to LynnArts’ Black Box Theatre, where Arts After Hours presented “Silence! The Musical,” the New England premiere of a parody of “Silence of the Lambs,” that wowed a matinee crowd. The gruesome 1991 film that starred Jodie Foster as a young FBI cadet seeking help from Anthony Hopkins’ Hannibal Lecter, an incarcerated and manipulative murderer, to help capture a serial killer is an unlikely subject for a stage musical.

It works, in a sick, perverted sort of way. Most of the sight gags are priceless, and videos add to the mayhem. There’s a hilarious dance number in a morgue. The songs are raunchy and rude (and catchy, though most of the titles can’t be printed in a family newspaper; one song will stick in your brain, and it’s the most vulgar of all). And there’s a Greek chorus of lambs that’ll shock you with inappropriate behavior.

There are some strong voices in the talented cast, especially by Chas Kircher (Hannibal). Jeremiah O’Sullivan (serial killer Buffalo Bill) steals every scene he’s in, and Lisa McDonough (Clarice) is solid in the production’s “normal” role. Michael Barry’s terrific, especially as Clarice’s papa. None of the lambs are sheepish about going gonzo. And Priscilla Strom of Bent Water Brewery aced her guest cameo.

“Silence” continues through Oct. 29. Buy your tickets, $20-$30, at artsafterhours.com, before Salem’s Halloween crowds scare them all up. Leave the kiddies at home though.

Truth be told, I’ve never seen a single second of “Star Trek.” That didn’t lessen my enjoyment of the 90-minute one-man show by Shatner, that show’s iconic Captain Kirk, at Lynn Auditorium.

Dressed in jeans, a tight black T-shirt (more than the universe is expanding) and dark cardigan, Shatner got his loudest cheers from an appreciative crowd whenever “Star Trek” was mentioned or shown on a video screen behind him. A filmed sit-down with Patrick Stewart, who is known more for playing Capt. Picard in “Star Trek: The Next Generation” than theater’s classic roles, was particularly touching.

The affable Shatner, whose booming voice echoes many a Shakespearean actor, is a born storyteller. “Shatners World: We Just Live In It,” his look back at his career — in movies, TV, on stage and on record — was filled with humor, heart and sarcasm. The video of the many parts he’s played, from “TJ Hooker” and “Twilight Zone” to “Boston Legal” and numerous live appearances in the early days of TV, were consistently entertaining.

His most prominent prop was an ergonomically-friendly chair, broken in by Lynn’s Community Development Director

in his office for the past month. It was used to best effect when Shatner rode the chair like a horse, during a revealing monologue about horses and his love of animals.

For a look at Lynn Auditorium’s upcoming shows, go to lynnauditorium.com.

Sky Blue Pink, by Christine Johnson, is on display in the gallery of LynnArts, as part of the “Fine Artists of the Lydia Pinkham” show.

Sky Blue Pink, by Christine Johnson, is on display in the gallery of LynnArts, as part of the “Fine Artists of the Lydia Pinkham” show.

 

The Arts After Hours rendition of “Silence of Lambs,” “Silence! The Musical,” will run at The Black Box Theatre through Oct. 29.

[/media-credit] The Arts After Hours rendition of “Silence of Lambs,” “Silence! The Musical,” will run at The Black Box Theatre through Oct. 29.

More Stories In