Friday, October 21, 2011

Isabel Silva: Bunnicula Arrives!

It’s almost show time and earlier last week the star of the show finally arrived! Bunnicula, or his puppet that is, made it just in time for final rehearsals as the cast of Bunnicula prepares to go on stage this weekend. 

The character of this loveable vegetable juice-sucking bunny presented quite a challenge in creating a stage-adaptation of the classic children’s book. In the story, Bunnicula, although he is a rabbit, is very active on stage. He hops around, bares his fangs, wiggles his nose, sleeps, and sucks the juice out of all the vegetables in the Monroe house. 

All this action however, becomes difficult to translate on-stage when you do not have an actor playing the part. Noreen O’Connor, whose son “playing” Bunnicula, took upon herself the complicated (but fun!) task of finding a puppet that could bring this vampire bunny to life.

She found an artist on named Paula Corbett who designs and sells puppets  through her a company fittingly called Bad Bunny Puppets. Impressed by her work, Noreen contacted Paula and they both began to brainstorm ideas for this bunny project. Noreen requested an “unassuming pet bunny look that turns vampire for the vegetable-sucking scenes” and requested that the bunny look as though he were wearing a cape. 

The trickiest part was finding a way to create fangs that could appear and disappear just as they do in the book. Paula devised an ingenious method for this; she created holes in the bunny’s face where the fangs would go and then created a glove that had the fangs attached so that the puppeteer could use his fingers to expose and retract the juice-sucking fangs. She also made it so that one of the puppeteer’s fingers could be used to wiggle Bunnicula’s nose. These elements, combined with the cape-like design of the bunny’s fur came together to form a Bunnicula puppet that looks like it hopped straight out of the book itself.

Paula said that researching Bunnicula for this project was “fun” and that she was “excited to see how [Bunnicula] was going to turn out! And so were the rest of the cast and crew working to put this production together. When the puppet was finally delivered, everyone was thrilled with the creativity and likeness of this one-of-a-kind puppet.

 Thanks to the ingenuity of Noreen and Paula, the Bunnicula production will have its vampire star tomorrow night when the lights go down, curtains go up, and Bunnicula takes to the stage.

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