A music-filled, laugh-packed puppet variety show for the
preschool-going set has invaded the airwaves, inviting little
viewers to experience life through the eyes of fuzzy Peep-colored
More specifically, the oddly endearing, slightly British bunny
residents of Bunnytown whose format, puppet construction and music
is all the fabulously fantastical creation of brothers and Chicago
natives, David and Adam Rudman, along with their partner, music
director and executive producer, Todd Hannert.
We're not talking your garden variety bunnies either.
Bunnytown has a funky, retro-rock twist that's all its own, and
echoes popular programs like Sesame Street and Jack's Big Music
Show, where all three gents have worked behind the scenes - David
Rudman was one of the original voices of Cookie Monster immediately
following Frank Oz - but in a more energetic, zany way.
Here, the bunnies play, sing, dance, hike, go on picnics, blast
into space and enjoy watching the comical antics going on in the
neighboring Peopletown (think Monty Python's Flying Circus mixed
with Laurel & Hardy's Sons of the Desert).
During a nanosecond of downtime, the talented trio let me in on
life as traveling dads who work non-stop to create funny,
laugh-out-loud programming for kids that incorporates that all
important educational edge.
I read that you constructed the original Bunnytown
prototypes on the rooftop of your Highland Park office building so
as not to disturb the neighbors with toxic fumes. True of
David: True. We didn't want to disturb the other tenants or
ourselves with the fumes.
David and Adam, are there many creative differences when
working so closely with your brother, or do great minds think alike
for the most part?
Adam: We have a similar sense of humor and really enjoy
collaborating on all of our shows.
Todd, how do you fit into the equation?
Todd: I write the lyrics and music for Jack's Big Music
Show and Bunnytown, and with David and Adam, create
and executive produce all our shows. David and I met in college and
have collaborated ever since.
How long does it take to tape one Bunnytown program from start to
finish? Is the whole production harder than it
David: Each episode takes about two weeks to write, a week to
storyboard, three to four days to shoot, several weeks to edit and
a few more weeks for music and sound design. And yes, there is a
challenge to pretty much every shot. It's all small scale puppetry
so every set up and camera move is tricky.
Adam: We try to do all the special effect in camera without using
blue screen so some of our puppet rigs are pretty complex.
Is it difficult to operate the Bunnytown puppets? Are they
kind of like Muppets (part rod operation, part marionette strings
and some moving parts technology) in terms of construction? How
many people are needed to operate just one bunny?
David: Yes, they are very tricky to operate and nothing like the
Muppets. First of all, they're only 6 inches tall so you can't get
your hand in there to control them. They're worked on rods with a
trigger for the mouth and another mechanism to toggle their heads
side to side. Sometimes it takes up to three people to operate
Why did you decide to go with bunnies?
Who doesn't like bunnies! There's also something funny about a
town full of dopey looking bunnies.
What has been your worst snafu? Alternately, what has been your
biggest or most surprising success story?
Our biggest snafu was probably trying to create a funny,
action-packed movie featuring the soundtrack of Bread. Our most
surprising story was that our Noggin show, Jack's Big
Music Show, was just nominated for an Emmy Award for Best
Bunnytown has this sort of pop culture, retro-rock vibe
mixed with Monty Python-esque skits that seem to channel a little
Laurel & Hardy (my all-time favorite slapstick duo). Is that
meant to speak to the parent viewers out there? I don't know too
many wee beasties who are familiar with disco fever, Earth Wind
& Fire or Elton John.
Todd: The show was inspired by late 60's early 70's variety shows
like Laugh In. That's why the show has that whole flower
power vibe. The look of our Bunnytown Band was inspired by Sly
and Family Stone. We're also fans of Laurel &
Hardy and Buster Keaton and wanted to introduce that kind of
humor to kids.
What do your own kids think of Bunnytown? What do they
think you do for a living?
David: They love Bunnytown and they know we create
You all have amazing resumes, with stints and extensive
projects at The Jim Henson Company, Sesame Street, Nickelodeon, and
of course, The Disney Channel. How do you balance all of those
commitments with family/spouse time? Any words of
Adam: Its a pretty intense few months when we are in production
but the rest of the time, its all pretty normal, like a 9-5 job so
we have plenty of time with our families. But when they all go to
bed, we usually end up back at work for a few more hours.
Convista says: This interview was fast and furious, and was
originally released in 2008.
Maria Pilar Clark is a mom times two and Windy City-based writer.
See more of Pilar's stories here.
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