Behind the making of Bunnicula. Catch the performance Feb. 15, 16 & 22 at Birmingham Children’s Theatre.

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Zoe Wirt with Bunnicula. Photo via Bham Now

Follow the adventure of a juice-sucking vampire bunny in Birmingham Children’s Theatre’s production of Bunnicula. Catch it February 15, 16 and 22 at 2:30PM. Tickets here. Use discount code CHESTER for 20% off.

The Story of Bunnicula

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Bunnicula seeking out veggies. Photo via Bham Now

The story begins on a dark and stormy night when the Monroe family brings home a new pet—a rabbit named Bunnicula. But Bunnicula is no ordinary rabbit, but instead, a vampire bunny! When the family’s produce starts to lose its juice, Chester (the family cat) and Harold (the family dog) decide to get to the bottom of this bizarre and mysterious phenomenon. 

Based on the children’s book by Deborah and James Howe, Birmingham Children’s Theatre brings Bunnicula to life via a talented crew of actors, designers and puppetry. 

Show Details:

Where: Birmingham Children’s Theatre. 2130 Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd. N., Birmingham, AL 35203
When: February 15, 16 & 22
Time: 2:30PM
Price: $10-$28
Tickets

The Creator Behind the Bunnicula Puppet

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Puppet designer, Spencer Murrill, shows how Bunnicula moves. Photo via Spencer Murrill 

Who’s behind the Bunnicula puppet? Spencer Murrill, puppet and costume designer.

Murrill’s interest in puppets first sparked when he was nine years old. 

“I got a book called Muppets Make Puppets,” said Murrill. “I made all of the projects in the book then decided I wanted to try and make ones like on television, so I started learning different techniques and more advanced materials.”

His interest in designing puppets didn’t stop there. 

“When it was time to go to college, I wasn’t sure if there was an actual career in puppet design, so I went to art school at Georgia State University and learned more techniques and experimented with a lot of really messy and expensive materials.”

Based in Atlanta, Murrill typically spends his time creating puppets for commercials, film and TV. As a puppeteer, he has also worked as a builder for the Center For Puppetry Arts. Bunnicula at Birmingham Children’s Theater is his first opportunity to design and build a puppet and costumes for a full theatrical performance. 

The Construction of the Bunnicula Puppet

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Bunnicula the puppet measures abound 29 inches long. Photo via Spencer Murrill

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Bunnicula’s sheeted foam pattern. Photo via Spencer Murrill
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The many pieces that create a magnificent puppet. Photo via Spencer Murrill

Interested to know what the Bunnicula puppet is made out of? It’s pretty interesting. 

According to Murrill, it’s made out of sheeted foam. The material is a bit soft, but keeps its shape. It’s also lightweight, which makes it easier for the puppeteer to manipulate.

The puppet also features black and white faux fur to give it that cute softness of a real-life bunny and, when prompted, it also shows off glowing eyes and fangs.

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The Dracula-esque vibe of Bunnicula. Photo via Bham Now

From start to finish, Bunnicula took around one month to make. 

While Murrill is the designer and builder of the Bunnicula puppet, making it come to life onstage will be local actress Zoe Wirt. 

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More than Glue and Foam

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Zoe Wirt masters the Bunnicula puppet during rehearsals. Photo courtesy of Tammy Stringfellow

While it may take several materials to create puppets, there is more to creating them than just stitching and gluing them together. You also have to be conscious of the puppeteer in order to create something that is easy and comfortable for them to manipulate. 

“For Bunnicula, I was thinking in terms of Zoe being able to move around and not having to hunch over,” said Murrill. “If she’d be able to move freely and not be in some sort of physical pain. You want it to be pleasant for someone to perform with.”

Check out the video below for a behind-the-scenes look at how Bunnicula works. 

The 50s Meets Gothic Macabre

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John Allen Bankson (Music Director) and actress Joy Pointe (Chester the Cat) on the set of Bunnicula. Photo via Bham Now

Backstage, I had the chance to see some of the costumes that will be worn during the show. As someone who loves to craft and has constructed more cat costumes for their daughter than they can count, I felt right at home. 

Bunnicula is set in the 1950s, but there’s an exciting twist. Brandon Bruce, Birmingham Children’s Theatre’s Executive Artistic Director, had a particular vision for the show. 

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Actress Joy Pointe plays the hilarious Chester the Cat. Photo courtesy of Tammy Stringfellow

“It’s meant to be like two different worlds,” said Murrill. “It’s sort of cartoony, a little bit strange and otherworldly. So you have the simple 50’s world with the human characters, then you have this gothic macabre world of Bunnicula with creepy elements and costumes that are bright with primary colors.”

One “creepy” element—when Bunnicula gets excited, he gleams fangs. Totally Dracula-esque. 

A Team Effort

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Actress Joy Pointe plays the hilarious Chester the Cat. Photo courtesy of Tammy Stringfellow

What’s cool to witness during rehearsals at Birmingham Children’s Theatre is the collaboration between those involved in the show. The stage crew, the actors, the director, the costume and set designers…they all work together to create the magic you see onstage. 

This is one of Murrill’s favorite parts of what he does for a living. 

“The main thing that I like is working as part of a team, which you have to do in order to make puppets work,” said Murrill. “I love jumping in with other people’s ideas and trying to add as much as I can to that. Also, starting from nothing with a puppet is always really fun. You really have a blank canvas so you can kind of go wild with how they turn out.” 

Discover the World of Bunnicula

Intrigued by this vampire bunny puppet? Check it out during the production of Bunnicula, taking place February 15, 16 & 22nd at Birmingham Children’s Theatre. Buy your tickets now!

For a chance to win a family four-pack, be on the lookout for our newsletter ticket giveaway and enter to win.

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