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'Bunnicula' a hare-raising tale

Kristine Foreman, left, is Chester the cat, and Mikhail McMillan is Harold the dog, in The Peer None Players production of "Bunnicula" opening tonight in New London. (Tribune photos by Gary Miller)

The Little Theatre in New London has chosen a priceless and classic children's tale for its latest production. "Bunnicula" is the story of one unique bunny, two pet peers and the endearing Monroe family, based on the highly recommended 1979 children's book by Deborah and James Howe. The story centers on Bunnicula the orphaned bunny, Harold the lovable dog and Chester the family cat.

On a dark and stormy night (really) the Monroe family sees the movie "Dracula" at the local theater. There they find the apparently abandoned Bunnicula, aptly named in honor of the Monroe family's evening entertainment. Little does Bunnicula's adoptive family know that the oddly furred and curiously teethed rabbit will appear to live up to his namesake's reputation.

As Bunnicula tends to keep nocturnal hours and the vegetables in the house become drained of their colorful juice, Bunnicula's four-legged housemates become suspicious of his behavior. Chester the cat (Kristine Foreman) and Harold the dog (Mikhail McMillan) are determined to unmask the truth behind the family newcomer.

The human counterparts of the host Monroe family take a backstage to the antics of their pets, but are nonetheless an essential part of the "Bunnicula" cast. Ian Bloomquist is the Monroe patriarch Robert Monroe and he is married to Kaitlyn Wolbeck's lawyer-mom Ann Monroe. The Monroe kids are played by Josh Peters, as Pete, and Alex Wright, as Toby.

Bunnicula himself, created by the renowned puppeteer John Kennedy and cleverly manipulated by Bryan Orson, can be described as the quiet mysterious type. Harold the dog serves as the narrator and as Chester's best buddy, while Chester is the smart and suspicious sophisti-CAT of the story.

The tale of Bunnicula is campy and spoofy ... and not too scary. The recommended age for this production is 5 years and older, and parents and grandparents alike will enjoy taking them to see it. It is a great combination of music, puppetry, drama and humor.

So, is Bunnicula really a vampirish rabbit with a voracious appetite for fruit and vegetable juice? Or worse? Or is he simply a misunderstood and misjudged misfit? "Bunnicula" has its moments of hare-raising suspense, but at the forefront is a warm-hearted story about being different and longing for acceptance.

The Peer None Players present "Bunnicula" at 7:30 p.m. June 11-13, 17-20 and 24-26 with a 3 p.m. show on June 27 at the Little Theatre in New London. Tickets are $12 for adults, $7 for students and are available at the door.

Bev Davis Knudsen has reviewed shows for The Barn Theatre in Willmar and the Little Theatre in New London. She has acted and done costuming for the Little Theatre and was a production assistant at the Ridgewater College theater.