Silent Laughter Goes Silent at Lamb's Theatre

News   Silent Laughter Goes Silent at Lamb's Theatre Silent Laughter, a "silent slapstick comedy with music" that attempted to conjure the action and spirit of silent movies of yesteryear, ended its Off-Broadway run April 11 after 11 previews and 26 performances.

The decision to close came at the last minute, and no official announcement was made prior to the final performance. The new theatrical conceit opened March 18 at Off-Broadway's Lamb's Theatre after previews from March 9.

The family-friendly show, presented by Carolyn Rossi Copeland in association with the Lamb's Theatre Company, was written by Billy Van Zandt and Jane Milmore and directed by Van Zandt, with a "cast of thousands" played by nimble actors: Megan Byrne, Ed Carlo, James Darrah, Jim Fitzpatrick, John Gregorio, Ken Jennings, Glenn Jones, Jane Milmore, Art Neill, Billy Van Zandt.

Van Zandt is exploring a future for the show, but nothing has been announced.

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The action was accompanied by a live movie-house organ (at the keyboard is Ralph Ringstad, Jr.), and popcorn was available at each performance. Silent Laughter featured set design is by Dana Kenn, costume design by Cynthia Nordstrom and lighting design by Richard Winkler.

The show included classic elements of silent movie comedy: pratfalls, pranks, pies in the face, sultry vamps, little tramps and a gaggle of Keystone Cops.

Silent Laughter premiered in spring 2003 in Lincroft, New Jersey.

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"This project really had its genesis back when I worked with Lucille Ball on her final series," Van Zandt said in production notes. "The more questions I would ask Lucy, the more she would say. 'Why are you studying me? Look back to Keaton, Chaplin, Lloyd and Arbuckle. They're the ones to watch.' So I took her advice, fell in love with the genre, and the seeds for Silent Laughter were planted."

Billy Van Zandt and Jane Milmore have written and starred in 20 of their own comedies including Off Broadway's farce Drop Dead (which starred Adrienne Barbeau, Rose Marie and Craig Bierko in its L.A. debut), Love, Sex, and the I.R.S., What the Bellhop Saw, Confessions of a Dirty Blonde, The Pennies, Merrily We Dance and Sing and A Night at the Nutcracker. Van Zandt and Milmore have written and produced over 300 hours of comedy for network television (including "Martin," "Newhart," "Suddenly Susan," and "Yes, Dear").

They received Emmy Award nominations for their "I Love Lucy" special, as well as People's Choice, Prism and NAACP Image Awards for their work on "Martin" and "The Hughleys."

Van Zandt acted in over 200 stage comedies, including the West Coast premiere of Moon Over Buffalo with JoAnne Worley. His favorite TV role remains opposite his comic idol Lucille Ball on her final TV series. He is married to actress Adrienne Barbeau.

The Lamb's Theatre is at 130 W. 44th Street, between Broadway and Sixth Avenue.

Visit the Silent Laughter website at www.SilentLaughter.com.

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