An Interview with Rabbit Hole Theatricks | Actors Fund

An Interview with Rabbit Hole Theatricks

The Actors Fund’s Ashley Theagene spoke with the team behind Superbunny Meets the Mummy: Amber L. Spradlin, author of the Thumperino Superbunny series of children's books; Michael McKenzie Wills, director & writer of the musicals’ books and lyrics; and Adelmo Guidarelli, president of Rabbit Hole Theatrics.
Photo credit: Stuart MacKenzie

ASHLEY:  How did you guys get Rabbit Hole started?
AMBER:  Well it began in 2013. Rabbit Hole Theatrics was a small collective of like-minded theater folk, and we had been approached by Stuyvesant Oval, which was an outdoor theater downtown (NY), to put together an Easter show. Rabbit Hole started performing and they approached Mike and me - because we had this Easter themed rabbit property so to speak - and Superbunny began.

ASHLEY:  I also know that there's a real bunny involved?
AMBER:  Yes! Thumperino, he's my house rabbit. Back in 2007 I adopted Thumperino as a baby [from a family in] Connecticut. As soon as I got him home, he was bouncing around the apartment doing backflips. He was running free in the house at that time…, he would do very cool things like go behind my couch and I would find little “projects” he had made by chewing up some of my favorite possessions. I would just imagine [the things he must do] I don't know about when I am at work, write down little bits about him and that became the first book – Thumperino - Diary of a Superbunny. That went on to win two book awards and it was a Grammy Award contender as an audiobook.

ASHLEY:   Mike, when you’re crafting the musicals what's an important central theme for you to keep alive from the Thumperino stories?
MICHAEL:  A lot of it has to do with his character, which is from the book of course. You know he's good and pure, and is always trying to teach the children something - whether it's good eating habits or sharing. You know you have to keep all those themes in the story. But one of the unique things about the book is that it's written like a diary, so it’s first person. Also, he's researching and reading about stuff – like, he sees the crimes in the newspaper and goes to the library researching different things. You can't really watch somebody just read a book on stage, so you have to come up with ways to get the information that Amber has written and turn it into a conversation with other people.

ASHLEY:  How do you think living, working, and creating art in New York otherwise affects your Superbunny adventures and musicals?
AMBER:  New York has an endless supply of storylines. There are characters everywhere you go - at the bus stop, at the bodega, a unique looking person or an interesting building that catches my eye. And I just start to build a story: what would Superbunny be doing right now? I carry a little notebook with me everywhere and I just stop and jot down the ideas. When I was a little kid growing up in Nebraska I just couldn't wait to come to New York City - and I love it here! Even when I am on vacation I’m thinking about New York City. Even when I wrote my current Superbunny book, which became this musical, Superbunny Meets the Mummy, I was touring a historic cathedral in Bologna, Italy and my mind was wondering about Superbunny, so I sat right down in a pew and scribbled down my ideas that became the book.
MICHAEL:  For me, luckily Thumperino lives in New York City. I love living in New York myself. As a small boy it was my dream to come to New York and live here. I love the places he goes, the people he meets, and I try to incorporate that into the scripts as much as I can.

ASHLEY:  So speaking of New York, what are your favorite Halloween escapades?
MICHAEL:  One of the things I can proudly say is that when I first moved to New York I lived on the corner of West 9th Street and 6th Avenue. The [Village Halloween Parade] for 10 years was huge for me, because even getting in and out of the apartment became difficult - and the spider climbing down the Jefferson Market Library tower right out my window - I loved every moment of it. I used to make costumes and go out and join them!
ADELMO:  And for me it's the same, anybody who has lived in New York or comes to New York, going to that parade is like nothing in the world. It's one of the most amazing places in the world. I can't top Mike's corner- that is awesome - and I didn't know him then unfortunately, but the parade is just magical.

ASHLEY:  Are there any future Rabbit Hole adventures?
ADELMO:  Well, we are very, very excited because this September a company in New Zealand, Rob Martin Productions, will be presenting Cow named Cow - one of Mike's musicals based on Amber's children's books, which if you remember Rabbit Hole Theatrics debuted at The Actors fund Arts Center in 2014! We are pretty pumped to see our little cow buddy making friends with children in another country.

Superbunny Meets The Mummy
Saturday, October 29th at 2:30 pm
Sunday, October 30th at 10:30 am

Event is FREE for Children. Call (917) 563-9830 to RSVP.