Fantasy Fun Delights Us in Julie Bunny Must Die

WINTER PARK — Adam Chase is a cartoonist with a passion for his favorite creation, Julie Bunny. Yes, Julie truly is a bunny — but Julie is also an spy who takes on exotic missions around the world, facing plenty of dangerous situations and crafty villains.

While Adam clearly has a passion for these fantasy adventures, his independent comic book “Julie Bunny: International Spy” isn’t selling out. But that may be the least of his problems. With a girlfriend to keep happy and a demanding boss at the ad agency he works at, Adam finds the pressures of the real world are taking up an inordinate amount of his time.

It doesn’t help that his imaginary characters want as much of his attention as they can get, too.

Julie Bunny Must Die!, a newly revised version of the musical by Ned Wilkinson, is one of six new shows premiering this weekend at the 7th Annual Florida Festival Of New Musicals, now being held at Winter Park Playhouse. This comedic show, with book, lyrics and music by Wilkinson, is a clever look at the artistic process, and the challenges that artists face when their fantasy world collides with the real one.

What Is Julie Bunny Must Die?

The musical has a delightful comedic approach. Opening with Adam knee-deep in yet another issue of Julie Bunny: International Spy, his characters — Julie and the villainous Chef Albertson, who wants to cook her up — help establish how Adam’s creative process works. Adam’s passion is to draft and sell these independent comic books, but reality keeps intruding.

His girlfriend Lindsay is facing her own job pressures and needs more of Adam’s time and attention. His boss, Mr. Bradford, wants Adam to design the logo for a major new client before another ad agency lands the account. And to top it off, on the weekend when Adam is supposed to be creating that logo, he gets an invitation to a “Furries” convention. Furries are folks interested in anthropomorphic animals or animals with human qualities, who often create and dress up as their own animal character. Adam is offered a table to sell his Julie Bunny comics there, and it’s an opportunity that the cartoonist Adam simply can’t resist — even if it means playing dodgeball with Mr. Bradford and Lindsey. The pressure is on.

The first act of Julie Bunny Must Die, which was performed at the Playhouse on Friday, is a fun mix of snappy tunes and a smart plotline. The five member cast does an excellent job bringing the show to life.

Evan Rumler plays the increasingly overwrought Adam and fully captures how challenging it is balancing your artistic ambitions with daily pressures. Hannah Laird has a blast playing the very opinionated and animated Julie Bunny. Jandrea Novak as Adam’s girlfriend, Vince Wingerter as the Furries Convention organizer and Todd Allen Long as both Chef Anderson and Mr. Bradford round out a talented cast, both for their comedic skills and their glorious vocal talent.

Wilkinson is a familiar figure at The Winter Park Playhouse, where he works with the theatre’s musical director Christopher Leavy to provide live music to their productions. His story of the clash between our artistic visions and the need to focus on life’s hassles is intriguing enough to make anyone want to see the full show once it’s been completed.

Julie Bunny Must Die will be performed again on Saturday at 5 p.m. and is definitely worth catching. Be sure to stay for the talkback session afterwards, when the cast and playwright/composer will be on hand to get feedback from the audience.

What is the Festival Of New Musicals?

The 7th Annual Florida Festival of New Musicals was first launched in 2018, created to advance and elevate the original American art form of musical theater by fostering the development of new musicals. The Playhouse, which frequently brings in brand new musicals making their Central Florida debut, also aims to boost the artistic growth of theater writers and composers.

This four-day event will showcase six new musicals currently in the development stage. The Festival also enables the writers and composers to get exposure to not only the public, but the news media and to regional theater producers and directors.

A one-hour version of each chosen musical gets fully read and sung concert-style, without staging, by professional actors and musicians.             

Where Can I See The Festival Of New Musicals?

The 7th Annual Florida Festival Of New Musicals is being held now through Sunday at the Winter Park Playhouse, 711 Orange Ave. in Winter Park. 

Tickets cost $10 per show and a 6-show “Festival Fun Pass” is available for $50. To purchase tickets, get the Festival schedule and receive more information, visit online or call the Box Office at 407-645-0145. 

Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright and author of the terrifying book “Bloody Rabbit”. Contact him at

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