A Gibsons media production company is preparing to unveil the pilot episode of its inaugural live action children’s series, with a hare-brained star ready to hop into the limelight.
Reggie Rabbit and the Search for the Golden Carrot features a white-furred adventurer played by puppeteer Kris Fleerackers. Fleerackers (who operates and voices the eponymous rabbit) performs alongside actor and theatre instructor Shannon Rody. The two head up the all-Sunshine Coast production which is spearheaded by series creator William Baker.
“The depth of talent on the Coast for bringing the story to the screen is tremendous,” said Baker, who wrote the screenplay after founding Reggie Rabbit Films Inc. earlier this year. Baker recruited industry professional Jason “Rowdy” Rody as director and engaged singer-songwriter Stephan Lacasse to oversee music and special effects. Casting was led by Driftwood Theatre School instructor Ingrid Bilton and Verna Chan, a personal trainer and freelance copywriter.
The premiere is scheduled to take place at a gala matinee at the Heritage Playhouse on Sept. 24. Adults are permitted to attend as long as they are accompanied by a child.
“It’s fun to watch as Reggie and [Rody’s character] Katy try to figure out clues with the assistance of co-stars Wanda Nowicki and Mac Dodge,” added Baker. “Kids are challenged to help figure out where the next location might be as they also learn interesting facts about some of the places visited.”
The show’s plot involves a treasure hunt guided by hints about culturally significant locales on the Sunshine Coast and the Lower Mainland. Its emphasis is “edutainment,” explained Baker, with a target audience of children six to 12 years of age.
The first destination for the carrot-hunting duo is Molly’s Reach, in scenes filmed on location at the waterfront eatery. The production also includes photography captured aboard a BC Ferries vessel, with plein-air puppetry drawing the attention of young travellers on the ship’s outer decks.
Actors and real-life siblings Matthew and Abigail Lepage play a pair of young diners at Molly’s Reach.
Fleerackers also depicts the series villains: Wally (a hirsute wolf clad in a plaid button-down) and Wrinkles (a monosyllabic worm sporting a miniature top hat). Fleerackers himself created the wolf puppet, while noted visual artist Elizabeth Evans designed Reggie and Wrinkles.
“It’s a collaborative Coast community production that I’m sure will become a kid favourite as the series moves to exciting places in B.C. during the first season,” said Evans. “It’s amazing and very gratifying to see how this cast and crew bring the puppets and the story to life on the screen.”
Studio shots and post-production audio were recorded in the vicinity of Bonniebrook Beach. Audio engineer Sacha Fassaert, owner of Enclave Studio, oversaw dialogue dubbing by lead actors.
Baker will use the half-hour pilot to pitch the series concept to television and streaming outlets. A fully-funded first season would explore destinations throughout B.C. In later episodes, the rabbit’s itinerary would take him on an international odyssey while inviting young fans to solve online puzzles that reveal the geography and history of each location.
The Hollywood-style premiere takes place at the Heritage Playhouse in Gibsons on Sept. 24. Celebrities arriving by “rabbit-mobile” will walk the red carpet at 1 p.m.; the show screens at 2 p.m. Tickets (free for kids and adults by donation) are available via Eventbrite and the One Flower One Leaf Gallery.