BWW Review: SCT's NAKED MOLE RAT GETS DRESSED and Gets Rockin'
Don't let the fact that the title has the word "naked" in it or that the same word is repeated several times in the opening number fool you. This is, indeed, a children's show. Yes, you are still at Seattle Children's Theatre and it's safe to bring the kids in as we're only talking about cute little naked mole rats. Rockin' mole rats to be more precise who will sing their way right into your hearts with Seattle Children's Theatre's world premiere "Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Rock Experience".
Based on the book by Mo Willems, with script and lyrics by Willems and music by Deborah Wicks La Puma, these mole rats start off each day with a rockin' tune about how great it is to be naked in their underground tunnels. But one mole rat, Wilbur J. Mole Rat Jr. (Richard Gray) feels something is missing. That is until the day a hat falls from the ... well ... sky of the tunnel (don't try to think about it too much) and then a shirt and then some pants and ... you get the idea. Wilbur finds these new clothes are just the things he's been missing but when he tries to share them with his friends Grande, Venti, and Tall (Lisa Estridge, Duncan Frost, and Kate Jaeger) they don't really warm to the idea. In fact, they turn him over to Grand-Pah Mole Rat (Greg McCormick Allen) for judgement. What will become of this not so naked little mole rat?
The script and the songs are delightful with plenty of jokes for the parents to grab onto while the kids are giggling over the antics of these funny little naked mole rats. Director Linda Hartzell keeps the pace clipping right along so the little ones never get bored in this 60-minute rock extravaganza with some excellent choreography from Marianne Roberts which, of course, features a healthy dose of tail-ography as any show filled with costumed characters with tails would. Speaking of the costumes, Cathy Hunt's pudgy little mole rat outfits are hysterical and the colorful outfits in which she dresses them are stunners and I love those wigs. And I must mention some great music direction from Tim Symons and his rockin' band, "The Flesh Tones" who kept the beat thumpin'.
Estridge, Frost, and Jaeger are wonderful as the trio of Wilbur's friends each with their varying levels of dedication to their continued nudity and they play off each other perfectly in a blissful Marx Brothers-esque fashion. Allen is fantastic as Grand-Pah but truly shines with his tap solo in one of the group numbers. Because if you have Greg McCormick Allen in a show, you really ought to have a tap solo for him. And his running news segment gag with Vickielee Wohlbach was hilarious. But it's Gray with the Bulk of the story and he carries it beautifully and with tremendous heart.
This delightful little story of following your own bliss as long as it doesn't hurt someone else and letting others do the same is a lesson many in our society could learn. And so, with my three-letter rating system, I give Seattle Children's Theatre's production of "Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Rock Experience" a Duuuude of a YAY. And remember, if it makes you happy and it doesn't hurt someone else, why not?
"Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Rock Experience" performs at Seattle Children's Theatre through May 13th. For tickets or information contact the Seattle Children's Theatre box office at 206-441-3322 or visit them online at www.sct.org.