‘Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Rock Experience’ Brings Mo Willems’ Book to Life

By Tracy Wang

As the title suggests, ‘Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Rock Experience’ is about some naked mole rats, also known as sand puppies that only have a few hairs here and there, and it is also about a rock experience that is surely going to get you standing up, and rock with the naked mole rats on stage.

Kate Jaeger, Greg McCormick Allen, Lisa Estridge, Vickielee Wohlbach, Duncan Frost and Kathy Moore-Photo by Elise Bakketun

A colony of naked mole rats lives happily naked in a tunnel, and every morning, without fail, they sing some morning tunes, but on that day, one of them, Wilbur J. Mole Rat Jr., is missing. Hoping to find some more warmth and purposes in the tunnel, Wilbur is shocked, when a hat drops from the sky, and more clothes follow. At first afraid to touch them, he soon puts all of them on, and enjoys the feel of them on his skin.

Kate Jaeger and Richard Gray-Photo by Elise Bakketun

Soon enough, his fellow bandmates, Venti (Duncan Frost), Grande (Lisa Estridge), and Tall (Kate Jaeger) find him, and try to convince him to take off those clothes, and stay naked as always. However, already tasted the sweetness of wearing clothes, Wilbur refuses, and to his bandmates’ suggestions, he even starts a clothing store called H&M, short for ‘Hats! And More!’. His un-nakedness quickly causes some serious clothes storms in the tunnel, and to stop him, Grande activates the Grand-Pah Grand-Panic button. Grand-Pah (Greg McCormick Allen) is informed of this disturbance, and decides to make a proclamation in town. How will Grand-Pah decide? Will Wilbur, someone who has disrupted the norm, be able to be accepted by the rest of the naked mole rats?

With Cathy Hunt’s exciting design of the costumes, and Mo Willems’ usual witty script and lyrics, ‘Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Rock Experience’ is the perfect reincarnation from the original book version with the same name. For the sixty-minute of the show, we embark on a hilarious journey with Wilbur to fight for his differences, and realize, in the end, that we have grown fond of the naked mole rats on stage.

Though the whole rock experience has a simple enough plot, where someone of a unique personality or having a out-of-the-norm dream is trying to fit in, to belong, the witty script and performance keep our eye fixed on the stage, and our mind racing with the exhilarating songs and expert tap dancing, especially that of Allen.

Greg McCormick Allen and Richard Gray-Photo by Elise Bakketun

But what truly is exciting for the kids is the interactive element of the rock experience. The naked mole rats are not just bound to the stage; instead, they come down, high-fiving and commenting on the audience’s clothes, as if we are also naked mole rats. The joy on the kids’ faces are palpable, and when the naked mole rats on stage begin a fashion show, the audiences, both young and old, go wild with cheering and clapping.

Kate Jaeger, Duncan Frost and Richard Gray-Photo by Elise Bakketun

Seemingly just another play for children, ‘Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Rock Experience’ is in truth touching upon a topic that concerns the society greatly. A question of ‘why not’ wakes the colony of naked mole rats up, and they start to be more accepting for all the differences they have, whether it is a dream, a trait or just something they wish to do. The whole rock experience brings out the message that if a person’s dream or wish does not hurt anyone, that person should have the liberty to embrace it. It reminds us of the idea that differences may vary, but what’s at stake is our willingness to hear them out, be accepting toward them, and see how colorful the society could be with all the differences in the world.

‘Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Rock Experience’ is playing at Seattle Children’s Theatre’s Charlotte Martin Theatre till May 13th. For more information and to buy tickets, please visit: https://www.sct.org/Shows/2017-2018-Season/NakedMoleRat