BWW CD REVIEWS: BUNNICULA (Original Off-Broadway Cast Recording) is Quirky and Laugh Out Loud Funny
Our favourite childhood vampire rabbit is back and ready to sing. BUNNICULA opened Off-Broadway, with Music and Lyrics by Sam Davis and Mark Waldrop and a book by Charles Busch. This creative team brought the childhood book by Deoborah and James Howe, Bunnicula, and the family fun that accompanies it to the stage to mostly positive reviews. The original cast recording, produced by Yellow Sound Label, is just as quirky and hysterical as one would expect the adaption of the beloved children's novel to be.
The recording tells a story. It follows the arrival of a mysterious rabbit, found under the seats of a Dracula screening, and the subsequent threat the not-so-innocent and fluffy bunny poses to the family dynamic. Like the classic story, it's up to the family pets, Harold the dog and Chester the cat, to get to the bottom of things and expose Bunnicula for the fiend they think he is.
The score for the show is well crafted, and the stellar cast brings it to life. The cast recording effortlessly encapsulates the magic of the stage show. The record doesn't necessarily feature big show stopping numbers with fancy ballads or riffs, but it is sure to entertain. The speak-sing nature of the score makes it easy to appreciate the witty and clever dialogue in the music.
The dynamic between family cat Chester and family dog Harold is highlighted in what might be the most entertaining of the tracks, "My Best Friend." The back and forth between Robert Anthony Jones as Harold and Prescott Seymour as Chester is perfect; the dynamic is plain to hear. The entertainment is extended with an equally amusing reprise.
Coming in as a close second as the record's quirkiest number is "Naming Bunnicula," a track that features the voices of the whole cast. Not only does this provide an insight to the family dynamic as well as the cast dynamic, but it also provides some exposition. In the track, the family comes together to determine a name for the family's newest addition - the vampire rabbit that no one really realizes is a vampire rabbit. The Monroe's, Mr. and Mrs. Monroe played by Abe Goldfarb and Erin Maguire, their son Toby played by John Garry, and Ashley Campana as Debbie, look back on how they determined the names for their current pets. The song is endearing and sets the stage for the show. It ends with their decision to name their rabbit Bunnicula. Get it? Like Dracula?
With the success of WICKED, and more recently PETER AND THE STARCATCHER and MATILDA, adapting literature for the stage is becoming more and more popular for both the Broadway stage and the Off-Broadway stage. Putting this particular story about the fluffy but bloodthirsty pet bunny on stage may seem unconventional, but that is why it works. Its score is comically wacky and fun. Anyone who read these books as a child will enjoy hearing the story narrated in song by Harold, the family dog. Rest assured, Robert Anthony Jones is perfect in the leading role.
The best thing this recording has going for it is its comedic dialogue. While most recordings rely heavily on big voices singing powerhouse numbers, the music on this album lets the writing stand for itself. The comedic timing of the cast compliments this perfectly. The cast recording of BUNNICULA tells a story that will make the whole family laugh upon listening.