The Children's Theatre of Dover and Kent County revives the favorite bunny's tale for the stage with a young, cohesive cast. The show debuts at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 27, at Wells Theatre in Slaybaugh Hall, Wesley College.

A small cast of young actors is exploring themes of love, loss and growing up via the classic story, “The Velveteen Rabbit.”

Co-director Diane Radnich spoke of the book reverently, holding it tightly. It was one of her favorites as a child, and when she re-discovered it in college, she realized it was more than just a children’s book.

“It’s not just a story, it definitely has some deep messages. It depends on your age what you take from it,” she said.

For those who haven’t read it, the book by Margery Williams centers on a boy, Alex, and his toys. Alex’s China dog goes missing one day so he replaces it with the Velveteen Rabbit he got for Christmas. The Rabbit learns that he can become real if the boy loves him unconditionally, and becomes Alex’s constant companion. The Rabbit even keeps Alex company when he gets scarlet fever. Unfortunately, upon Alex’s recovery the Rabbit is tossed aside to be burned with the rest of the infected items. It is then he cries a real tear, is saved by the Nursery Magic Fairy, and turned into an actual rabbit.

Dover High School senior Josh Guessford is student-directing the play, and said the story is a good gauge for parents to tell how their kids are feeling. It’s also emotional for older audience members.

“It can tug on the heartstrings for anyone in the audience,” Guessford said.

Radnich once is again directing with Pam Johnson. Radnich said they chose the play in part because of its spectrum of themes that touch on love, friendship and loss. It’s also a fun show because real kids are playing the stuffed animals and toys, Radnich said. Younger kids will get a kick out of the toys emerging from the toybox and the costumes and makeup, whereas older kids will start to understand the themes.

The duo chose to work with a smaller, younger cast to give them more attention and stage time. Being a part of a small cast allows the kids to be a part of the process of developing their character, and permits their suggestions to be heard, Johnson said.

“It’s so much fun to watch them grow, and we’ve really become a cohesive group,” Radnich said.

Email Sarika Jagtiani at

WHAT “The Velveteen Rabbit” by the Children’s Theatre of Dover and Kent County Inc.
WHEN 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 27 and March 6; 2 p.m. Sunday, March 7
WHERE Feb. 27 performance at the Schwartz Center for the Arts, 226 S. State St., Dover; March performances at Wells Theatre, Slaybaugh Hall, Wesley College
MORE INFO Call 241-3290