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Vampire bunny gnaws at life lesson for children and adults

Submitted by Chelsey McNiel on September 5, 2012 – 7:23 pmNo Comment

The Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre production of “Bunnicula,” which hits the stage later this fall, will entertain audiences with the themes of family, acceptance and mystery.

“Bunnicula” is based on the book by Deborah and James Howe. The adaptation is written by Jon Klein with music from Chris Jeffries. Since the book’s publication in 1979, it has been a favorite with children and parents alike.

When the Monroe family brings home a small black-and-white bunny they find in the movie theater, after seeing “Dracula,” Chester the cat and Harold the dog are immediately suspicious. After the vegetables in the Monroe kitchen start turning white having had all the juice sucked out, Chester and Harold are certain the bunny is a vegetarian vampire.

Resident playwright and Associate Director Keith Smith is directing “Bunnicula” for the second time. Smith was in the Arkansas Arts Center acting company in 1980 and has been at the theater for about 30 years. Smith said “Bunnicula” was chosen not only because there is a new audience, but because the company and audience had such a good time with the first production in 1999.

“It’s hard to pass up that opportunity again,” he said. “A lot of what we want to accomplish is for our audience to enjoy themselves.”

UALR senior liberal arts major Sinovia Mayfield is the production stage manager for the Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre. Mayfield said she chose the Children’s Theatre because she believes it’s important for young people to have significant experiences in the arts.

“Working with all the kids whose first theater experience this is, that’s always really fun,” she said. “Seeing them experience all those little things that you take for granted like a first read-through.”

Auditions were held Sept. 2 for the children’s roles, and the adult roles will be played by the company’s professional actors.

Smith, who also designs scenery, said the set style was approached to convey “scary” by using distorted angles. The set also keeps the atmosphere “accessible and humorous with vibrant colors.”

“It’s just fun,” Smith said. “It’s the opportunity to poke fun at being scared. It’s a vampire, but it’s a bunny.”

After the rabbit is brought into the Monroe home, Smith says Chester the cat and Harold the dog learn to deal with the changes brought on by the addition of a new family member.

“It’s about acceptance,” he said. “And not judging something  or someone simply because they are suppose to be scary or suppose to be something [else].”

“Bunnicula” will be on stage Oct. 26 – Nov. 11. Public performances are held at 7 p.m. Fridays, 3 p.m. Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $12.

Performances for school groups are put on at 10 a.m. and noon Tuesday through Friday.

For more information, call 501-372-4000 or visit

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