John Szablewski Previews

First Look: ‘Bunnicula’ at Theatre of Youth

christine-e1506284348956.jpg

Christine Cooke-MacVittie is the puppeteer who operates the Bunnicula puppet in the Theatre of Youth production.

It would probably be safe to say that the theatre, to most, is an acquired taste. A taste for attending live theatrical productions is one that is broadened with age. Most theatre-goers that attend shows regularly enjoy, and can appreciate, the work that is put into producing a production, and find the art form to be a valuable part of their leisure time. To those members of society who might not understand the art form of the performing arts, because they are. . .oh, very young, or. . .because they haven’t been exposed to the magic of it just yet, every opportunity must be granted to them, in order for the art form to sustain and carry on into the new generation. Luckily, Theatre of Youth Company, understands this and has made it their mission to aim entertainment at the children of the Buffalo community, with the goal of cultivating a brand new audience and to spark an interest in the performing arts.

Theatre of Youth, located in the historic Allentown neighborhood at the Allendale Theatre, kicks off their 2017-2018 season with the Halloween treat, “Bunnicula,” adapted by Jon Klein and based on the novel by Deborah and James Howe, which tells the story of the Monroe family, who on a stormy night, bring home a strange and interesting new pet rabbit. While the family loves their new found friend, the family Cat thinks there is something peculiar about this rabbit, especially when mysterious white vegetables begin appearing around the house. Is the Cat right? Is the rabbit a menace?

“We did the show twenty-years ago and it’s a favorite of ours,” says Meg Quinn, Artistic Director of Theatre of Youth, “it’s a very funny show and the kids really did enjoy it.”

Starring a Cat, a Dog, The Monroe Family, and a giant Rabbit, this spooky tale is sure to be just the treat for the upcoming Halloween season. “Ken Shaw has designed a wonderful gothic set that we have been ‘weirding’ up,” laughs Quinn,  “We also had a puppet created that had to be larger than life.”

The Bunnicula rabbit puppet was designed and built by local art teacher Adam Kreutinger, who’s puppets have been seen in the MusicalFare Theatre production of ’Avenue Q’, Aurora Players’ production of “Little Shop of Horrors” and the local family holiday favorite, “The Littlest Snowmonster,” which has played the Lancaster Opera House. Puppeteer Christine Cooke-MacVittie, operates the puppet throughout the show.

“Bunnicula” is a show that parents and educators will definitely find conversation starters in, especially in this day in age. “It’s a story about identity and making your own decisions,” says Quinn,  “In a playful way, the show tells the audience to think for themselves and to be acceptable of others.”

Theatre of Youth not only makes it their mission to perform shows aimed toward children, but they also try to give all children the chance to come visit their theatre. “TOY school shows allow students from all different areas of Buffalo, to come and join us for one day to see a show,” says Quinn, “They get to cross paths with other students and see that no matter where they come from, they are all alike.” Quinn also adds that they want children to feel at home at their theatre, and that they are continuing to find resources to bring new students to see their shows. “We are very deliberate in activating the imagination of children,” she says, “we want them to think that they could be up on stage, and we want them to exercise their imaginations and creative thinking skills.” Every TOY show ends with a talk-back between the actors and the audience.

Quinn says that with “Bunnicula”, “The message is great. Change can be difficult, but if we all adjust and adapt and settle down, we will always move forward.”

“Bunnicula” opens to the public on September 30, 2017 and is presented at Theatre Of Youth in Buffalo. For more information, click here.

Promotional Consideration Provided By The Theatre Alliance Of Buffalo.