“First the vegetables, then our own sweet necks.”
Harold the dog and Chester the cat enjoy life in the Monroe house, until the family brings home a stray rabbit with red eyes and fangs. Before long, Bunnicula starts sneaking out of his cage at night, leaving a trail of white, juiceless vegetables. Is the new pet secretly a vampire?!
The mostly teenage cast—five actors were in Youth Rep this summer—keeps the action kid-friendly. Olivia English stands out as Chester, balancing the cat’s lazy, book-loving side with her imaginative and increasingly silly schemes to thwart the bunny menace. Chester and Harold both relish sophisticated vocabulary, introducing kids to words like “domestication,” “maligned” and “psychiatrist.”
Bunnicula, portrayed by a large puppet, moves and chirps like a gremlin. Showing his movements after dark adds slight menace compared to the book version. (We also found it strange that the play decides not to explain the reason behind his red eyes.) That said, the only real “terror” is a childlike discomfort over changing family dynamics.
Fine Arts Center takes great lengths to welcome a younger audience. They’ve painted the set in a fun, cartoon style. They set out mats up front for kids age 10 and under to get the best view. After the show, the cast poses for pictures and signs autographs. It’s a perfect nibble for young theatre fans.
If you’re an adult, please sit along the far edges. Lots of action takes place at pet level, and kids too shy to sit up front were stuck watching behind grown-up heads. More than a few stood on their chairs.
Toby, who is played as a girl, gets referred to as both “he” and “she” during the play. (Same for Chester, who admittedly plays more ambiguous as a cat.) We’re big fans of gender-blind casting, but switching pronouns mid-scene makes the story confusing.
“Bunnicula” contains mild scares and one poop joke that flies over kids’ heads. Recommended for ages 5-12.
Second Stage at Fine Arts Center
30 W Dale St
Box Office: (719) 634-5581
Playing October 13 – November 12, 2017
Admission: $20 adults; $10 kids
Running Time: 1 hour