“Silence!” A Toe Tapper of a Musical is Born

By Ernest Kearney — The Silence of the Lambs, the 1991 thriller directed by Jonathan Demme—based on the Thomas Harris 1988 novel of the same name/screen adaptation by Ted Tally—dished out one super genius serial killer with an appetite for sautéing his victims and another who was choosing his victims for a dress pattern; mixed in with creepy settings, grotesque murders, and childhood traumas.

It was indeed the stuff that inspired many a nightmare.

Well now, thanks to the folks of the Bucket List Theatre, you can hum along with those nightmares.

Silence! The Musical by Jon and Al Kaplan with book by Hunter Bell has won my grand prize for the most inappropriate choice for a musical adaptation beating out Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Dr. Zhivago and Lestat (with a score by Elton John and Bernie Taupin no less!)

But unlike the above-mentioned shows, Silence! The Musical actually works.

Amanda Conlon takes on the role of FBI trainee Clarice Starling as well as serving the production as both director and choreographer; a demanding load to take on but a choice the production doesn’t seem to suffer from.

(l-r) Jesse Merlin (Lecter), Amanda Conlon (Clarice) in “Silence! The Musical” (Courtesy of Bucket List Theatre)

The presentation is strictly bare-board, which highlights the cleverness and the silliness of the show of which the evening abounds with excess, starting off with the show’s opening, featuring a chorus line of lambs.

While the staging may be a tad rough about the edges, you can forgive a lot if it supplies you with non-stop snickers and chortles and this mounting succeeds in doing that.

Nick Dothée and Jesse Merlin carry off the roles of Buffalo Bill and Hannibal Lecter ** writer's hand ** with noteworthy proficiency, with Merlin demonstrating great flair in delivering one of the most delightfully tasteless tunes in the history of musical theatre “I Can Smell Your C**t From Here.”  It’s a real camel toe tapper.

The company talents are displayed to their best in the antics of Philip McBride, Michael C. Silva, Courtney Bruce, Jeff Lagreca and Julie Ouellette.  And Suzanne Slade provides every dance number with enough pop to rival a Coca-Cola bottling plant.

Frankly, I think we could all use some relief from the assault of reality bombarding us every day from CNN, MSNBC and the BBC, and Silence! The Musical is a perfect prescription for some soul salving ludicrousness.

One word of advice, re-watch the film if you can, that way you’ll not miss out on a single snicker.

(In Featured Image: Nick Dothée as Buffalo Bill)

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writer's hand Did you know that Anthony Hopkins only got the role of Hannibal Lecter after Demme’s first choice for the role turned it down – Sean Connery!  Kid you not!


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Bucket List Theatre’s

SILENCE! The Musical

Oct. 11 thru Nov. 3, 2018

Thursdays., Fridays and Saturdays


at the

Let Live Theatre
(at The Actors Company),
916 N. Formosa Ave,
Los Angeles, CA 90046.

For Information:


For Tickets:


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Written by

An award-winning L.A. playwright and rabble-rouser of note who has hoisted glasses with Orson Welles, been arrested on three continents and once beat up Charlie Manson. His first play, "Among the Vipers" was a semi-finalist in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition and was featured in the Carnegie-Mellon Showcase of New Plays. It was produced at the NPT Theater in Ashland, Oregon and Los Angeles’ celebrated Odyssey Ensemble Theatre. His following play, “The Little Boy Who Loved Monsters” was produced at The Hollywood Actors Theater, where he earned praise from the Los Angeles Times for his “…inordinately creative writing.” The play went on to numerous other productions including Berlin’s The Black Theatre under the direction of Rainer Fassbinder who wrote in his program notes of Kearney, “He is a skilled playwright, but more importantly he is a dangerous one.” Ernest Kearney has worked as literary manager or as dramaturge for among others The Hudson Theater Guild, Nova Diem and the Odyssey Ensemble Theatre, where he still serves on the play selection committee. He has been the recipient of two Dramalogue Awards and a finalist or semi-finalist, three times, in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition. His work has been performed by Michael Dunn, Sandra Tsing Loh, Jack Colvin and Billy Bob Thornton, and to date, either as playwright or director, he has upwards of a hundred and thirty productions under his belt, including a few at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater as puppeteer. Kearney remains focused on his writing, as well as living happily ever after with his lovely wife Marlene. His stage reviews and social essays can be found at TheTVolution.com and workingauthor.com. Follow him on Facebook.

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