Oct 20 – Nov 25, 2018
Saturdays & Sundays at 11am & 1pm

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! Once again Lifeline Theatre brings unbridled humor and memorable original melodies to a beloved children’s classic.”  –Chicago Theatre Review

“I took my 9-year-old son as my date in order to get a true perspective on how well the piece read with its targeted audience. By the end of the 45-minute production, we both were thoroughly entertained, both of us laughing out loud through most of the performance.”  –ChicagoOnstage.com

“Sie’s script does a great job of condensing the story… making it an excellent, kid-friendly retelling of the novel. In addition, the show is rife with all-ages humor… the jokes are tasteful and universal enough that both the kids and adults in the audience can enjoy them.”  –Splash Magazines

At a showing of Dracula one dark and stormy night, the Monroe family discovers an abandoned rabbit. When they bring him home, resident know-it-all Chester the cat suspects the worst after spying gleaming fangs in the bunny’s mouth. And as vegetables start turning up mysteriously drained of their juices, even easygoing Harold the dog wonders if they have a supernatural menace on their hands. Brave the night and dare to embrace our differences in this musical adaptation of the 1979 book by Deborah and James Howe.

Recommended for kids 5 and up. Children under 2 are not permitted.

Adaptation and lyrics by James Sie
Music by Doug Wood
Directed by Anthony Kayer
Based on the book by Deborah and James Howe
Print book originally published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Special Performances
Audio Description and Touch Tour
Sunday, November 4
   Touch tour: 10am
   Performance: 11am

Open Captioning
Saturday, October 27 at 11am and 1pm

Autism/Sensory-Friendly Performance
Saturday, November 3 at 3pm
Social Narrative | Parent Guide

Visit our Accessibility page for more information.

Excerpt from Bunnicula — lyrics by James Sie, music by Doug Wood.

Join us any Saturday or Sunday at noon during the run of Bunnicula (following the 11am show, or before the 1pm show) for our Stories Come Alive! Hour.An interactive storytelling session with on-your-feet theatre games exploring the book behind the play — all designed to make positive connections between your children and literature that will last a lifetime.Only $5 per child for the workshop! Reservations are recommended (though not required).
Contact the box office at 773-761-4477 for more information.
  • Kyrie Anderson (Mom)

    Kyrie is very excited for her debut performance with Lifeline Theatre! Recent credits include Merrily We Roll Along (Porchlight Theatre); Mary Poppins in Mary PoppinsSongs for a New World (NightBlue); My Way, A Tribute to Frank Sinatra, Miriam in Fly By Night, Mrs. Johnstone in Blood Brothers (Theo Ubique). As always, she thanks her family and friends for their never-ending love and support.

  • Christopher Davis (Dad)

    Christopher is completely stoked to make his Lifeline debut! He recently performed in Sondheim’s A Little Night Music (BoHo Theatre), Southern Gothic (Windy City Playhouse), Merrily We Roll Along (Porchlight Music Theatre), Cabaret and A Wonderful Life (Theatre at the Center), and many shows with Williams Street Repertory in Crystal Lake, where he is a company member. Besides frequenting the Chicagoland TYA and Murder Mystery scenes, Christopher has summered at Rocky Mountain Repertory and works with adults with intellectual disabilities. Never-ending thanks go out to Mom and the Aunts for their support.

  • Whitney Dottery (Petey)

    Whitney is happy to be making her Lifeline debut! In the past she has understudied for Montauciel Takes FlightArnie the Donut (2017), and A Wrinkle in Time (2017). Other recent credits include Girl Found (Idle Muse Theatre Company), Wicked City (Chicago Theatre Workshop), and American Idiot (The Hypocrites). Whitney is an alumna of Columbia College Chicago (B.A.), and represented by NV Talent. www.whitneydottery.com

  • Nick Druzbanski (Harold)

    Nick is very excited to be making his Lifeline Theatre debut. Previous Chicago credits include: Rock of Ages (Drury Lane), Violet (Griffin Theater), High Fidelity (Refuge Theater Project), Thrones! The Musical Parody (Edinburgh Fringe, Adelaide Fringe, and Chicago Premiere), Seminar (Spartan Theater), Plaid Tidings (Beverly Arts Center), Pr0ne(Underscore Theater), and Henry VIII (Chicago Shakespeare). Regional Credits include: Les Miserables (Alliance Theater in Atlanta, GA)

  • Carisa Gonzalez (Chester/Toby)

    Carisa is so excited to be back at Lifeline for Bunnicula! She was last seen as Bessie the duck in Montauciel Takes Flight. Other Chicago credits include: Ruth Two Bears in Dogfight (Bohemian Theatre Ensemble), Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray (Windy City Performs), and the world premiere of Carrie 2 the Rage: An Unauthorized Musical Parody (Underscore Theatre). She wants to thank this killer cast and entire team here at Lifeline for making the space feel like a home for all who enter, and Shirley Hamilton Talent Inc. for being the best agents out there.

  • Megan DeLay (Understudy)

    Megan is overjoyed to be working with Lifeline once again, having previously been seen in Midnight Cowboy! In the Chicago area, she has worked with Black Button Eyes, Akvavit, Arc Theatre, Piccolo, Artemisia, Eclectic, DWTC, Open Door Rep, Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company, and is an Ensemble Member with Promethean Theatre. Favorite regional credits include: In the Next Room (Catherine), Tartuffe (Dorine), and Two Gentlemen of Verona (Julia) at Asolo Repertory (Florida). Film: Man On Wire. Megan received her M.F.A. in Acting from FSU/Asolo Conservatory and B.F.A. from Millikin University. Love to family, friends and the whole Bunnicula crew!

  • Shea Lee (Understudy)

    Shea is thrilled to return to Lifeline Theatre, where she was recently seen in You Think it’s Easy Being the Tooth Fairy? and the 2018 tour of Giggle, Giggle, Quack. Other Chicago credits include: Pride Ever After (Pride Arts Center) and Charred (Muse10 Theatre Ensemble). Shea graduated from Northwestern University in 2018, where her favorite projects include Anon(ymous)The Shape of a Girl, and Digging Up Dessa. She was also recently seen performing in At Your Service Commedia dell’Arte Troupe at the Bristol Renaissance Faire. Shea is represented by Shirley Hamilton Talent.

  • Kyle Mundil Dye (Understudy)

    As a former intern, Kyle is thrilled to be back and making his Lifeline acting debut! Recent Chicago theatre credits include the role of Nestor in Cornerstone (Nothing Without a Company), assistant stage management for Sylvester (Lifeline Theatre) and Neverwhere (Lifeline Theatre), and four productions at Special Gifts Theatre, where he wears many hats as a teacher, production assistant, and stage manager. Kyle is the Associate Talent Agent of the Theatre Department at Big Mouth Talent. He proudly holds his B.A. in Theatre from the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

  • Darren Patin (Understudy)

    Darren returns to Lifeline after appearing as Duck in the 2018 tour of Giggle, Giggle, Quack. Darren is originally from Texas City, Texas, and graduated last year from Columbia College Chicago with a B.F.A. in Musical Theatre. Recent Chicago credits include: Jimmy in Grand Hotel(Kokandy Productions), Solomon in Speech & Debate (Brown Paper Box Co.), and David in Choir Boy (Raven Theatre). He would like to thank his family, friends, and agents who support him in all his endeavors.

  • Anthony Kayer (Director)

    Anthony is incredibly excited and proud to be making his directorial debut with Bunnicula here at Lifeline, where he recently joined the artistic ensemble! He last worked with Lifeline as Assistant Director for Northanger Abbey (Non-Equity Jeff Award: New Work-Musical). Lifeline acting credits include: Jane Eyre (2014), Lyle Finds His MotherThe Emperor’s New Threads, and Arnie the Doughnut (2011). Other performing credits include work with The Fly Honey Show, Griffin Theatre, The House Theatre, inappropriate theatre co., Lookingglass/Chicago Children’s Choir, Next Theatre, Chicago Shakes, and Steppenwolf. Anthony is an alumnus of the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University.

  • Kate Reed (Stage Manager)

    Kate is excited to be working with Lifeline again after most recently stage managing last spring’s You Think It’s Easy Being the Tooth Fairy. Previously at Lifeline, she has worked on Arnie The Doughnut (2017), Her Majesty’s WillNorthanger AbbeyFable-ous!Lester’s Dreadful SweatersMr. Popper’s Penguins (2015), Soon I Will Be InvincibleOne Came HomeJane Eyre (2014), and Monstrous Regiment. Her other Chicago area credits include work with Mudlark Theater, The Side Project, the Northwestern University Theatre and Interpretation Center, and The Fine Print Theatre Company. She has a degree in Performance Studies from Northwestern.

  • Eric Backus (Sound Designer)

    Eric is excited return to Lifeline after working on Anna KareninaArnie the Doughnut (2017), A Wrinkle In Time (2017) (Jeff Award Nomination), and Northanger Abbey. Recent sound design and composition credits include Bus Stop (Eclipse Theatre) and Bull in a China Shop (About Face Theatre). Regional credits include Rock of Ages (Lake Dillon Theatre Co.) and Murder for Two (Finger Lakes Musical Theatre). Eric also designed the Off-Broadway, Chicago, and touring productions of SoloChicago Theatre’s Churchill, and the Chicago and LA productions of Thrones! The Musical Parody. To hear his music, please visit www.ericbackus.com.

  • Abigail Cain (Properties Designer)

    Abigail is very excited to be returning to Lifeline after designing props for Anna Karenina. She is a freelance prop master/designer and prop artisan. Other Chicago credits include prop design for Silk Road Rising, Shattered Globe Theatre, and A Red Orchid Theatre, among others. Other credits include assistant prop master for Bard SummerScape (Summer 2018) and prop master for The Cape Playhouse (Summer 2017). Abigail is an alumna of Viterbo University (BFA). http://abbiecain.wixsite.com/props

  • Andrés Enriquez (Music Director)

    Andrés is beyond excited to be making his musical direction debut at Lifeline Theatre! He has worked extensively with Lifeline, both as an actor, and most recently taking on the position of Casting Director for the 2018-19 season. Musically, he has been the director/founder of No Big Deal, an award winning a cappella quartet, for the past 4 years. He is a proud ensemble member of Lifeline Theatre and Barrel of Monkeys, and is represented by Gray Talent.

  • Noah Ginex (Puppet Designer)

    Noah has been building creatures around Chicagoland and across the country since 2003. A Joseph Jefferson Award Nominated puppet designer for Avenue Q with Night Blue Entertainment, Noah has also built creatures for Threadless, the Masters film program at FSU, the USNA Glee Club, and the Juno-Award Winning Barenaked Ladies to name a few. This is Noah’s second time building for Lifeline Theatre, having worked on Mr. Popper’s Penguins in 2015. When not wrangling puppets, Noah can be seen in Winnemac Park, wrangling a lion cub in purple glasses. To see more, go to noahginex.com.

  • Becca Jeffords (Lighting Designer)

    Becca is thrilled to be returning to Lifeline for Bunnicula. Previously at Lifeline she designed Neverwhere(2018), Arnie the Donut (2017), Sparky!, and Soon I will be Invincible. Recent Chicago credits include: Southern Gothic (Windy City Playhouse), The Walls of Harrow House (Rough House Theatre), Zurich (Steep Theatre), Nice Girl (Raven Theatre), The Temperamentals (About Face Theatre), and A Snowy Day with Beatrix Potter (Chicago Children’s Theatre). She received her M.F.A. in Lighting Design from Northwestern University and graduated from Columbus State University Summa Cum Laude in Production Design. For more information, visit www.beccajeffords.com.

  • Michelle Lilly (Scenic Designer)

    Michelle returns to Lifeline after designing The Velveteen Rabbit (2014) and Click, Clack, Boo! A Tricky Treat. Michelle has designed for Milwaukee Repertory, New Leaf Theatre, TUTA, Emerald City Theatre, Lifeline Theatre, A Red Orchid (Youth Ensemble), the side project, Theatre Seven, Profiles, Northwestern University, Grinnell College, Wheaton College, The Springfield Muni, and Springfield Theatre Center. Michelle is a co-founder of Brass Ink Studio, and co-founder of Rabbit Hole, a Chicago-based immersive game design company. www.michellelillydesigns.com | www.brassinkstudio.com

  • Emily Swanson (Costume Designer)

    Emily is very excited to be back at Lifeline designing another children’s show! She recently designed Montauciel Takes Flight last season and has been assisting at the Paramount on Once and Legally Blonde in the past few months. She would like to thank the cast and wonderful production team for all their creativity and support. You can see more of Emily’s work at www.emilyswansondesign.com.

, http://boxoffice.printtixusa.com/lifelinetheatre/eventcalendar,
, http://lifelinetheatre.com/accessibility/,
, http://lifelinetheatre.com/pdf/study_guides/bunnicula_study_guide.pdf,

From Chicago Theatre Review

Kid-Friendly Halloween Horror
October 23, 2018
By Colin Douglas


Ever since Irish author Bram Stoker penned his 1897 Gothic novel, Dracula, countless other vampire stories have been inspired by the book’s popularity. A few years ago, James and Deborah Howe jumped on the bandwagon, writing their own children’s horror novel about a vampire rabbit. It became so popular that Howe wrote three more sequels to the book: Howliday InnThe Celery Stalks at Midnight and Nighty-Nightmare. Soon thereafter, due to popular demand, James Howe wrote several more books in the series.

The Monroes are a modern American family, with two children, Pete and Toby, and a cat and a dog. One dark, stormy night, while at a movie theater for a showing of “Dracula,” they find a black and white bunny running around the auditorium. They bring the rabbit home and name it Bunnicula. Chester, the family’s orange, literature-loving tabby cat, convinces Harold, their scruffy pup, that the new bunny rabbit is actually a vegetable-sucking vampire. Upon daily discovering white, juiceless vegetables lying around the house, Chester is convinced that the new family pet has diabolical plans for his masters, and that he must be stopped. Together Chester and Harold band together to stop Bunnicula from taking over the world.

Adapted by James Sie, with lyrics by Mr. Sie and an a cappella score by Doug Wood, this is one of Lifeline very best KidSeries’ presentations. Directed with fast pacing and a contemporary sensibility, by Anthony Kayer, it’s hilariously acted and terrifically sung by a gifted cast of five.

Nick Druzbanski makes his much-welcome debut on Glenwood Avenue as Harold. Remembered for his breakout roles in Drury Lane’s “Rock of Ages,” “Violet” at Griffin Theater and “High Fidelity” with Refuge Theater Project, Mr. Druzbanski also serves as the play’s narrator. He has a great singing voice and is funny, with a keen sense of timing. Matched by the incomparable Carisa Gonzalez as Chester, these two actors form an Abbot & Costello-like comedy team that’s unrivaled. Ms. Gonzalez also plays Toby, the youngest son, as well. Since it becomes a little confusing, the production would profit by casting an additional actor to play this minor role. Ms. Gonzalez is an excellent actress, whose talents have been enjoyed in “Carrie 2 the Rage,” at Underscore Theatre, as well as Bessie the Duck in Lifeline’s recent, delightful “Montauciel Takes Flight.” She creates a hilariously solid characterization and offers some magnificent vocal chops, in this role.

These two actors are ably supported by triple threats Kyria Anderson, as Mom; Chris Davis, as Dad; and Whitney Dottery as Petey. All three actors supply some gorgeous, easy-on-the-ear harmonies to this production, thanks to the guidance provided by musical director, Andres Enriquez. In addition to Anthony Kayer’s spirited direction that cuts right to the chase, Eric Backus’ wonderful sound design works well in tandem with Michelle Lilly’s translucent scenic creations and Becca Jeffords’ eerie lighting. Emily Swenson’s costumes also add just the right touch without becoming too much. And a special nod to Noah Ginex’s beautiful puppet designs; his fuzzy Bunnicula bunny seems to truly be alive.

Once again Lifeline Theatre brings unbridled humor and memorable original melodies to a beloved children’s classic. Breathing new life into this funny animal story, skillfully guided by Anthony Kayer, and made flesh-and-blood by a talented cast and artistic crew, this is a delightful way to share some kid-friendly Halloween horror with young children and their adult companions.

From Splash Magazines

A Spooky Story for All Ages
October 25, 2018
By Jessie Bond

At the library where I work, the children’s department bulletin board currently asks “What’s your favorite boook?” and is covered in white paper ghosts with kids’ favorite books written on them. Next to my name, you’ll find the seasonally appropriate choice Bunnicula by Deborah and James Howe, the fun and slightly spooky story of a cat and dog who suspect that their family’s latest addition may be more sinister than he seems.

Bunnicula has been a favorite of mine for many years, and its many sequels and spin-off series, Bunnicula and Friends, are evidence of its popular among its target demographic. This children’s classic has been adapted into a play by James Sie and is being produced by Lifeline Theatre, just in time for Halloween.

The story opens with Harold, the family dog, introducing the audience to the family he lives with, which consists of a mother, father, two kids, Harold, and a paranoid book-loving cat named Chester (names changed to protect the identity of those involved, of course). The night in question, the family returns from a screening of Dracula with an accidental find: a sweet black-and-white bunny, in the form of a cuddly-looking puppet designed by Noah Ginex. But when the family’s vegetables start turning up white, Chester’s overactive imagination kicks into overdrive, and she begins investigating the rabbit with the reluctant help of Harold, who’s more interested in begging for bacon than vanquishing evil.

Sie’s script does a great job of condensing the story to a brief fifty-minute production without losing any of its essential elements, making it an excellent, kid-friendly retelling of the novel. In addition, the show is rife with all-ages humor; even in its most serious moments, the story is never so heavy it cannot be laughed at, but the jokes are tasteful and universal enough that both the kids and adults in the audience can enjoy them.

Nick Druzbanski is utterly charming as Harold, bringing a sweet earnestness and excellent sense of comedic timing to the role that captures the essence of the gentle narrator. And Carisa Gonzalez mimics the mannerisms of a cat magnificently, providing an uptight foil to Harold’s casual, relaxed nature. Another fun addition to the show is the music, written by Doug Wood and sung a capella by the actors. Although the cast is small, Wood is able to achieve some lovely harmonies on the simple, catchy melodies that drive the show. Sound design by Eric Backus captures well the eerie violin music and sometimes cartoonish sound effects that accompany Bunnicula’s antics.

Scenic design by Michelle Lilly is elegant and just a little spooky, clean and modernist while still reminiscent of a haunted forest. Excellent use is made of shadows on the walls, both for storytelling and aesthetic purposes.

Bunnicula is a timeless tale of a strange little bunny who creates a big fuss. It’s a story I keep recommending to kids in its book form, and it’s a story I now recommend to you in its play form.

From ChicagoOnstage.com

“Bunnicula” is a Halloween treat for the whole family
October 25, 2018
By Kelly Romack MacBlane

As the mother of three boys, ages 4, 7 and 9, I have been exposed to a wide variety of children’s entertainment. Over the years, I have learned to appreciate the shows, movies, and performances that are able to both capture my children’s attention while also keeping me at least mildly engaged. Lifeline Theatre’s KidSeries production of Bunnicula went above and beyond.

Bunnicula is a new musical adaptation of the 1979 children’s novel by the same name written by Deborah and James Howe. James Sie, who is credited with the adaptation and lyrics, and Doug Wood, who created the music, did an excellent job of capturing the suspenseful yet kid-friendly spirit of the book. Bunnicula follows the story of the Monroe family who finds a bunny at a movie theater during a screening of Dracula. Not long after they bring the bunny home, strange things begin to happen- strangest of all being that the vegetables in the house are all turning white! The well-read cat in the family, Chester, suspects something is not quite right with their new housemate. Chester, along with the family dog, Harold, sets out to get to the bottom of the vegetable mystery and figure out who Bunnicula, the aptly named rabbit, really is.

The show seemed fitting for a crisp fall day, not long before Halloween. I took my 9-year-old son as my date in order to get a true perspective on how well the piece read with its targeted audience. By the end of the 45-minute production, we both were thoroughly entertained, both of us laughing out loud through most of the performance. The laughter began with the entrance of Harold, the family dog played by Nick Druzbanski. Like all of the characters in the show, Harold was outfitted in what I found to be quite tacky and humorous 1970’s fashion, with a fringe leather vest giving the idea of fur topped off by a sweatband with floppy ears. I couldn’t help but giggle. Harold narrates the show with the help of the highly intelligent cat Chester, played by Carisa Gonzalez, whose pointy ears and kitschy striped shirt along with her feline movements made her believably cat-like. The scenes with the two animals are the best- their banter and sarcastic wit keeping the adults in the audience laughing. However, judging by the squirmy nature of the younger boy sitting next to me, it may have been a little hard for him to follow at times. Luckily, the physical humor in the show, along with the anticipation of where Bunnicula, played by a very believable puppet, might appear or disappear, was able to draw the young audience members’ attention back in. In the end, my son and I decided the best age range for the show would be 5-9.

There were many other components of the show my son and I enjoyed. He loved the puppet bunny and how different actors would manipulate Bunnicula depending on the scene. He also spent much of the show trying to figure out how Bunnicula “got out of his cage,” in the scenes where Chester and Harold found the cage empty. We both enjoyed the set that incorporated the use of shadows behind the onstage scenes to create different motifs. For instance, during one song, a chorus of shadow alley cats sang along with the actors onstage. This was one of our favorite moments. As for the music, I appreciated the fact that is was completely acapella. Using onstage and offstage voices, I enjoyed the way the five actors of the show could create such a spooky atmosphere with their singing.

As my son and I broke down the show over a coffee and hot chocolate later in the day, he decided it deserved a green light. He only had two complaints. One, he felt the acting was…cheesy? Over the top? He struggled to describe it. I, on the other hand, thought Anthony Kayer’s direction was perfect for this show. We agreed to disagree. However, we both were wondering what happened to the second brother in the show. In the opening scene, there are two brothers that come home with the family and the new bunny. However, one of the brothers, Toby, is never seen in the show again…and mysteriously looks a lot like Chester. I wondered why even have Toby appear in the first place. My son questioned what happened to him and why he never came back. However, overall, we both agreed we would recommend this fun show to our friends.

If you do have the opportunity to see Bunnicula at the Lifeline Theater, I’d also recommend taking advantage of the Stories Come Alive session that runs at noon between the 11 am and 1 pm shows on Saturdays and Sundays. This is a one hour class of theater games for kids. The cost is $5 per child. The games are all related to the show and our instructor, Nate, did a great job of working to reach the diverse age group of kids in our class. (My son was the oldest. He and I decided this program is best suited for kids ages 4-8). There were 9 kids in our session, along with myself. None of the other parents attended; however, when I asked Nate if I could go, he said of course as long as I participated. Being a lover of theater games, this wasn’t a problem! Nate kept the class moving with about five games over the 55-minute session. For the most part, the children were all engaged and there was a lot of laughter. I was impressed with Nate’s ability to keep the kids focused and on track. I’m hoping to be able to bring my other sons back for a class in the future.

Overall, it was a wonderful afternoon. Bunnicula and Stories Come Alive at the Lifeline Theater are a great way to help your young ones get pulled in to the amazing world of theater.