Interview: Kristina Dizon of Off-Broadway's WINNIE THE POOH, THE NEW MUSICAL STAGE ADAPTATION at Theatre Row

Winnie the Pooh runs through July 24, 2022 at Theatre Row.

By: Jul. 08, 2022
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Disney's Winnie The Pooh: The New Musical Stage Adaptation
Kristina Dizon (Kanga) and Kirsty Moon (Roo)
Photo Credit: Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade

"Deep in the hundred acre wood

Where Christopher Robin plays

You will find the enchanted neighborhood

Of Christopher's childhood days"

The lyrics take many of us back to our childhood either from the books that were first created by author A.A. Milne with illustrations by E.H. Shepard back in 1926, the Walt Disney Productions animated version that was first released in 1966 or one of the many subsequent movies to follow.

For me, it takes me back to the early 2000's when I was cast as Christopher Robin in Winnie The Pooh Holiday Story.

Lucky for today's children, there is a new Off-Broadway musical version that is currently running on Theatre Row in New York City, produced by Rockefeller Productions - Winnie the Pooh, The New Musical Stage Adaptation. It opened Off-Broadway in mid 2021 and ran for 100 performances and is now back in performances until the end of July.

Disney's Winnie The Pooh: The New Musical Stage Adaptation
Puppeteers: Kristina Dizon and Emmanuel Elpenord
Photo Credit: Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade

The production was featured on Good Morning America and PEOPLE magazine as part of the National Winnie The Pooh day earlier this year.

In this edition of SO NOW YOU KNOW, I talk to the production's original PIGLET & ROO, puppeteer, actress and singer, Kristina Dizon about being a part of Winnie the Pooh, The New Musical Stage Adaption.

Disney's Winnie The Pooh: The New Musical Stage Adaptation
Kristina Dizon
Photo Credit: thegingerb3ardmen

Who is your mentor and what would you like to say to your mentor?

My mentor is Molly Noerenberg. Her vocal studio awarded me a scholarship so I was able to afford lessons during the first year of quarantine. Her technique has changed my life. Molly, thank you for your patience, kindness, and holding me accountable!

What has this business given you and what has it taken away?

This business has given me the freedom to express myself in ways I could not do anywhere else. It has also provided me the space to be powerful, confident, and smart. But it is hard to have a life outside of worrying what is next. Even when I am booked, I am constantly checking my email for the next audition. There is rarely a day off.

What is the hour like before you go on stage?

I always make sure I get to the theatre before call time, with my hair and makeup typically done. I then make sure I do a full body stretch, paying attention to the muscles the particular show focuses on most. I will always do a Youtube vocal warm up. After I am warm, I will check my props and then run through notes I need to remember for that show. With a couple minutes to places, I touch up my hair and makeup, and then slowly get into costume!

Disney's Winnie The Pooh: The New Musical Stage Adaptation
Kristina Dizon
Photo Credit: Katie Moffitt Photography

If you could experience one performance over again, which one would it be and why?

The most life changing experience I would relive a thousand times, was being awarded the $10,000 vocal scholarship at Beach Blanket Babylon in 2013. This was the reason I was able to afford college and get my BFA in Musical Theatre from Cal State Fullerton. The whole competition was a blur. Rehearsals left me exhausted and nervous, but I then gave my all in the performance that granted me access to my first step in the professional direction. Ironically, this was the first time my name was on and I cried.

What are you most proud of?

At the end of the day, when you have opportunities to do your dreams, there is no feeling like it. But what I am most proud of is the kindness I continue to lead forward with. I look back on my experiences, and I am proud that I have actively used my voice to make waves in the industry.

Where did you study puppeteering?

I toured with Sesame Street Live in 2017 as a puppeteer understudy. I trained to use a mech as one of the onstage character performers. For this specific opening production, we were trained in hand rod puppets by Sesame Workshop. I was taught by Martin P. Robinson for the two years I worked on the project, and have implemented his technique since.

Were you a theatre kid growing up? If so, what shows were you in and who did you play?

Once a theatre kid, always a theatre kid. Growing up, I would be in multiple musicals at one time. My early training ground was at Rocklin High School, Roseville Theatre Arts Academy, and Rocklin Community Theatre. My favorite roles were Millie in Thoroughly Modern Millie, Rizzo in Grease, and Yonah in Children of Eden.

Disney's Winnie The Pooh: The New Musical Stage Adaptation
Kristina Dizon in Drowsy Chaperone
Photo Credit: Jordan Kubat Photography

What was your journey to originate the roles of Kanga and Roo in Winnie the Pooh, The New Musical Adaption?

I originated the role of Kanga Off-Broadway and had the pleasure to swing the roles of Piglet/Roo. It was when vaccines were just coming out that I had auditioned for the production. And suddenly, theatre was back. I met my wonderful cast mate, Kirsty Moon, in the process. We were the first two females to lead the show. She had been with the show since the workshops, and I was able to grow as a puppeteer from observing her specificity and crafting of these characters. I will forever be grateful for my cast and Jonathan Rockefeller!

What was your favorite moment of performing on Good Morning America as part of Winnie the Pooh, The New Musical Adaption?

My favorite part about performing on GMA was witnessing our performance on the Times Square Billboard. That was the most unexpected dream come true!

Disney's Winnie The Pooh: The New Musical Stage Adaptation
Kristina Dizon
Photo Credit: thegingerb3ardmen

What is coming up next for you?

I will be touring for the rest of the year in a new production, soon to be announced. The most special part of the show is that I will be puppeteering an iconic character with direction by a puppeteer I have admired and dreamed of working with since I was a theatre kid.


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