Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed
THE ROCK EXPERIENCE     
​based on the book Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed by Mo Willems
scrpt and lyrics by Mo Willems
music by Deborah Wicks La Puma
directed by ​​​​Casey Stangl
JULIANNE ARGYROS STAGE
February 1, 2019 - February 17, 2019

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Wilbur is different from all the other naked mole rats. He wears clothes—and he likes it. His friends think it’s ridiculous and needs to stop—that’s just a naked mole fact. After all, what will happen when Grand-Pah, the oldest and wisest elder in the colony finds out? Filled with tail-shaking good tunes, this outrageously fun musical proves it’s okay to be yourself. Rock on

Previews: February 1-8, 2019
Regular Performances: February 9–20, 2019

Recommendation: ​Contains fog and haze effects. Grades K–6. Theatre for Young Audiences … and Their Families is just that, a multi-generational experience for all ages (unfortunately, no children under the age of four and babes-in-arms). The only requirement is that each audience member occupies a seat and sits quietly through the performance while having a wonderful time

Running Time: Theatre for Young Audiences performances are never more than 90 minutes.

Mo Willems knows a good idea when he sees one. A three-time Caldecott Honor winner (for Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, Knuffle Bunny and Knuffle Bunny Too), he also won two Geisel Medals and two Geisel Honors for his Elephant and Piggie books. His books are perennial New York Times bestsellers, including Knuffle Bunny Free, Hooray for Amanda & Her Alligator!, and the Cat the Cat series. Before he turned to making picture books, he was a writer and animator on “Sesame Street,” where he won six Emmy Awards. Willems lives with his family in Massachusetts.

Learn more about the production, cast & creative team with a peek into the program. Read full artist bios, in-depth articles and more.

Cast
Bellusci

Daniel Bellusci (Wilbur J. Mole Rat, Jr.) I started acting in the 8th grade and my early mentors and drama teachers were hugely influential to me. They helped me find and cultivate a love for theatre, as well as develop an early sense of professionalism. And because I really love music, performing in musicals quickly became one of my favorite things. Since finishing school, I’ve performed in many musicals including Ella Enchanted and Nate the Great here at South Coast Repertory. I got to play Prince Charmont and Nate, a cool kid-detective. I had so much fun getting to share those stories. When I’m not performing, I love to read and play the piano.


Butiu

Melody Butiu (Grande) Hello, friends! You may remember me as Sally, Toy Lady and Scavenger in the most recent production of A Christmas Carol. I was also in the musical Ivy + Bean and played Junie B. Jones in Jingle Bells, Batman Smells! I studied theatre in college and graduate school at the University of California San Diego. I performed on Broadway in Doctor Zhivago and off-Broadway in a crazy-fun disco musical, Here Lies Love, by David Byrne (most grownups know him from the band, Talking Heads) at The Public Theater. When I did Shipwrecked! An Entertainment here at SCR, I played a mother, a sea captain, a native girl and an octopus expert—all in one play! I also played a genius flying-robot creator in The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow. I live in Manhattan Beach and love to do beach clean-ups and collect sea glass. I’ve done shows across the country and even around the world. On TV, you might have seen me in “The Kominsky Method,” “NCIS: LA,” “Rizzoli & Isles,” “Gotham,” “Modern Family” and “Melissa & Joey.” Thank you, Alan, for your love and support. Follow me on Instagram: @mellowdeebee


Clayton

Marqell Edward Clayton (Venti) Thanks for coming! I’m Marqell and I love pizza—I literally could eat it every day. I’m originally from the Central Valley (Modesto) and began singing at church when I was 4; shortly after, I began acting and singing at school and locally. After high school, I studied in the BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) program at Cal State Fullerton, just up the street. While in college, I really enjoyed working at Disneyland and making all sorts of ‘magic.’ Since college I’ve had fun performing throughout the LA area and most recently in Toronto, Canada, as a replacement in the pre-Broadway tour of Ain’t Too Proud. I’m pumped to be making my SCR debut and hope you’ll say “hello” after the show! Words I live by: “What you do today affects tomorrow.” You can find me on IG: @marqelledwardclayton—or at marqelledwardclayton.com


Cowans

Nicole Cowans (​Tall) I received my MFA in drama from the University of California, Irvine, where I studied various forms of theatrical expression, such as acting, singing, clowning, masking, dance and much more. As an international Afro-Latina performing artist, I speak both English and Spanish fluently, which makes it possible for me to connect with all kinds of amazing people. In my free time, I love to watch cartoons, make lots of organizational lists, spend time with my family and cuddle with my three little dogs. I’m over the moon to be performing with South Coast Repertory for the very first time!


D'Acciaro

Gina D'Acciaro (Weather Mole/Potential Customer/Secret Service Mole) I’ve played a dog and a cat and now, I get to play a RAT—naked mole-rat, that is! This is my second show at SCR and I’m thrilled to be back! My last name is pronounced DUH-CHAIR-OH and I’m originally from Philadelphia. I sing in a gospel choir, we’re very loud and it’s a lot of fun. You may have seen us this holiday season on TV in an Old Navy commercial—we were singing and dancing in sweaters. Also, this past April I became a newlywed! My husband and I have duets on iTunes under Jaq-n-Gina if you want to hear us. We love to sing songs and make music videos together while we travel. We also perform a bunch at Rockwell Table & Stage in Los Feliz. I hope you enjoy the show! Much love to my new hubby and our doggies! IG: @jaqngina


Gelman

Joel Gelman (Stark Naked/Grand-Pah) My brother and I always loved making each other laugh! Then we figured out we could make other people laugh, too—usually by doing funny voices and falling on our bums. I’ve done a number of fun voices and crazy dances here at SCR in The Light Princess, Ella Enchanted, Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. I’ve also done some silly roles on TV, including a terrible medical student on “Henry Danger” and a confused homebuyer on “Modern Family.” I can’t wait to laugh along with you today!!

Creative Team

Deborah Wicks La Puma (Music & Musical Direction) I am a composer and music director who loves working at SCR, where you might have seen my musicals Ella Enchanted and Jane of the Jungle. I have been writing shows for kids and grown-ups for more than 20 years, including Elephant and Piggie: We Are in a Play! at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.; Einstein is a Dummy at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, Ga.; and Ferdinand the Bull at Imagination Stage, Md. I started playing piano, singing and writing songs when I was nine and went on to study music at Stanford University and New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. My friends and I had a rock band in high school called Technical Difficulty, and, although we never made it big, I still love to rock out and sing loudly in the car with my husband and three daughters. Check out my website: crunchynotes.com.


Casey Stangl (Director/Choreographer) I studied dance in the first grade and got to be on TV! That was in Iowa, on “Bill Riley’s Talent Search.” Each week, kids performed on the show and, if they won, got $25 and the chance to compete at the Iowa State Fair. I made it to the state fair several years in a row and loved watching all the talented kids. But, even though I loved to sing and dance, I didn’t want to be a performer when I grew up. I liked seeing how everything got put together, and I imagined whole shows in my head, so I became a director. That means I choose who will be in the play, work with designers to help create the sets and costumes and help the actors create their characters. I like being the person out front, taking it all in and knowing that I helped to make it happen!


Keith Mitchell (Scenic Design) I have designed many shows based on books you may have read, like Ella Enchanted, Junie B. Jones and a Little Monkey Business (no monkeys were involved) and Mr. Popper’s Penguins (lots of penguins involved). Sometimes, I design and make sets for commercials like for Taco Bell, KFC and Star Wars TV Dinners (spoiler alert: tie fighters are chicken nuggets). I grew up north of here, in Thousand Oaks, and when I was a kid, I made a lot of tree houses and forts and invented my own toys. Did you know that I make a miniature version of the set for every show? When I was in college, I took a design class taught by another designer who works at SCR, John Iacovelli! I am a University of Southern California Trojan alumnus, which means my school colors are cardinal and gold, the same as Harry Potter’s Gryffindor!


Angela Balogh Calin (Costume Design) I’m very excited to be back at SCR and to collaborate with Casey again. I have designed costumes and sets at SCR for 16 Theatre for Young Audiences shows and more than 35 other productions including The Monster Builder, The Roommate, Abundance, The Whipping Man, Peter and the Starcatcher, Rest, The Whale and Trip to Bountiful among others. I also designed sets and costumes for more than 80 productions for The Alliance Theatre, Hollywood Bowl, Denver Center Theatre Company, A Noise Within, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, The Old Globe, Chautauqua Theater Company, Pasadena Playhouse, as well as many local theatres and in my native Romania. I have worked extensively in film and television in the U.S. and Romania, having design credits with I.R.S. Media, Cannon Films, PBS, Full Moon Entertainment and Romanian Films. I graduated with an MFA in set and costume design from the Academy of Arts in Bucharest.


Karyn D. Lawrence (Lighting Design) I am a theatrical lighting designer, which means I love to paint with light. I fell in love with lighting design while studying acting at UC-Irvine. From magical twinkle lights to flashy rock ’n’ roll strobes, I have fun making pretty pictures on stage. I have designed numerous plays at SCR including the Theatre for Young Audiences productions of Nate the Great, Junie B. Jones, Ella Enchanted, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, The Light Princess, A Year with Frog and Toad and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, as well as Seussical, Into the Woods, Beauty and the Beast, Mary Poppins, Peter Pan and Annie for SCR’s Theatre Conservatory. One of my favorite designs each year is lighting the haunted mazes for Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights! When I’m not playing with lights, I’m riding my horses in the mountains near my home in Los Angeles.


Jeff Polunas (Sound Design) I’m so excited to be sound-designing this production at SCR. I have designed many young audiences shows including Ella Enchanted, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Flora & Ulysses, The Light Princess, Ivy + Bean: The Musical and Anastasia Krupnik. During the summer, I love designing for SCR’s Summer Players—part of the Theatre Conservatory— which I’ve done for the last seven years. I attended San Diego State University and UC-Irvine, where I earned degrees in theatre and sound design. I love what I do and have designed for productions from San Francisco to San Diego. I enjoy taking the sounds we hear and creating something magical from them.


Ronn Goswick (Stage Manager) I am the stage manager for this production of Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Rock Experience and this is my first show here at South Coast Repertory. I started my theatre career late in life. I was majoring in business in college and took a theatre appreciation class. All of a sudden, I thought—I like this and want to do this for the rest of my life. I have been lucky enough to travel across the country doing shows. I also give back to the community by volunteering my time working on many different benefits for many different non-profit organizations. I hope you enjoy today’s show as much as we have enjoyed putting it together for you.


The Actors and Stage Managers employed in this production are members of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

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Marqell Edward Clayton, Nicole Cowans, Melody Butiu and Daniel Bellusci in "Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Rock Experience." Photo by Debora Robinson.
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Clockwise from top left: Gina D'Acciaro, Joel Gelman, Marqell Edward Clayton, Nicole Cowans, Daniel Bellusci and Melody Butiu in "Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Rock Experience." Photo by Debora Robinson.
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Gina D'Acciaro, Joel Gelman, Melody Butiu, Marqell Edward Clayton and Nicole Cowans in "Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Rock Experience." Photo by Debora Robinson.
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Marqell Edward Clayton, Joel Gelman, Gina D'Acciaro, Nicole Cowans, Melody Butiu and Daniel Bellusci in "Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Rock Experience." Photo by Debora Robinson.
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Daniel Bellusci in "Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Rock Experience." Photo by Debora Robinson.
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Daniel Bellusci, Marqell Edward Clayton, Nicole Cowans and Melody Butiu in "Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Rock Experience." Photo by Debora Robinson.
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Marqell Edward Clayton, Nicole Cowans, Melody Butiu, Daniel Bellusci, Joel Gelman and Gina D'Acciaro in "Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Rock Experience." Photo by Debora Robinson.
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Joel Gelman, Nicole Cowans, Melody Butiu, Marqell Edward Clayton in "Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Rock Experience." Photo by Debora Robinson.
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Nicole Cowans, Melody Butiu, Marqell Edward Clayton and Gina D'Acciaro in "Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Rock Experience." Photo by Debora Robinson.
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From the Blog
The cast of Naked Mole RatMeet the Cast: Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Rock Experience

Six actors transform into a colorful colony of naked mole-rats for our next young audiences musicals. Meet the cast.

Mo WillemsAn Interview with Author and Playwright Mo Willems

Learn more about Mo Willems, author and playwright of Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed, in this Q&A with critic John A. Sellers.

Naked Mole Rat LogoNaked Mole Rat Gets Dressed – A Story Overview

Wilbur is different from the other mole rats—he wears clothes and he likes it! Learn more about this outrageously fun musical for the whole family.

More
Dive into the Naked Mole Rat study guide.

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