From the Fringe: ‘Julie Bunny Must Die!’

Fringe review: ‘Julie Bunny Must Die!,’ Mental Multitrack, Ozark, Mo.

By Elizabeth Maupin

There’s something refreshing about Julie Bunny Must Die! – not because one of the characters is a large, good-natured rabbit in overalls but because this musical about a vocationally challenged cartoonist isn’t like anything else at the Fringe. Writer/composer Ned Wilkinson has put together a charming little show, which is all the more charming because it doesn’t try to be anything it’s not.

Bert Rodriguez plays Adam, a graphic designer for an ad agency by day and a comic-book artist by night, who has been drawing the adventures of international spy Julie Bunny since he was a tyke. Julie (Laura Hodos) is also his highly observant imaginary friend, who gives him pretty good career advice and generally keeps him from going astray. Adam’s under stress: His girlfriend (Stefanie Clouse) is unhappy, one of his obsessive fans (Ryan Connolly) is, well, obsessive and his boss (Michael Colavolpe) keeps piling on the work, which makes even Adam start thinking that Julie Bunny must disappear from the scene.

Wilkinson’s music is clever and catchy, if some of the book feels underwritten: One of the comic-book characters, a spy chief, seems to exist only to give Connolly somebody else to play; the whole ad-agency thing is a little murky and I never did figure out why Julie’s nemesis is a chef.

But director Christopher Leavy makes the piece zip right along, and the cast is mostly delightful – especially Colavolpe, who gets to play two separate bad guys, and Hodos, whose relentlessly perky demeanor fits Julie like a glove. Hodos is adorable, and her pipes aren’t bad either: This is one instance where the mikes can be left on the shelf.

As for Julie Bunny herself – well, I think we can rest assured that she lives, big-time.

Remaining performances: 9:50 p.m. Friday 5/28, 4:45 p.m. Saturday 5/29, 4:40 p.m. Sunday 5/30. Pink venue.

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