Amos & Boris
book and lyrics by Sofia Alvarez
music and additional lyrics by Daniel Roland Tierney
adapted from the classic children’s book by William Steig
directed by Jessica Kubzansky  
May 18, 2018 - June 3, 2018


While all the mice in Mouse Town dance the night away, Amos would rather sit alone dreaming of the ocean. When he goes on a high seas adventure and runs into trouble, Boris the whale comes to the rescue. Though Amos and Boris are different in every possible way, they become devoted friends. This fun, funny and funky musical teaches lessons about being yourself and the enduring power of friendship. 

Previews: May 18–25, 2018
Regular Performances: May 26–June 3, 2018

Recommendation: 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.

Sofia Alvarez (Book and Lyrics). I wrote my first play in fourth grade and have wanted to be a playwright ever since. In high school, I wrote and directed a play inspired by the poetry of Sylvia Plath and later studied literature and theatre at Bennington College. My first professional play, Between Us Chickens, was produced here at South Coast Repertory in 2011 while I was a playwriting fellow at The Juilliard School. Since then, I have made my living writing plays, TV shows and movies. I also teach screenwriting at New York University. I recently wrote the screenplay adaptation of Jenny Han’s best-selling young adult novel, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before; it will premiere on Netflix this summer. Amos & Boris is an adaptation of one of my favorite children’s books. Theatre and books are my two great loves and I am thrilled to have established a career that combines them both.

Daniel Roland Tierney (Music and Additional Lyrics) When I was 8 years old, I heard Beethoven’s “Für Elise” and was moved. Inspired to understand how an instrument could evoke such emotion, I figured out the composition on piano by ear. Playing music was forever part of my life thereafter, touring the country in bands, recording albums, and presently composing music for theatre. 

William Steig (Author) was a cartoonist, illustrator and author of award-winning books for children including Shrek!, on which the DreamWorks movies are based. Born in New York City, every member of Steig’s family was involved in the arts, so it was no surprise when he decided to become an artist. He attended City College and the National Academy of Design. In 1930, Steig’s work began appearing in The New Yorker, where his drawings have been a popular fixture ever since. He published his first children’s book, Roland the Minstrel Pig, in 1968.In 1970, Steig received the Caldecott Medal for Sylvester and the Magic Pebble. His books for children include Dominic; The Real Thief; The Amazing Bone, a Caldecott Honor Book; Amos & Boris, a National Book Award finalist; and Abel’s Island and Doctor De Soto, both Newbery Honor Books. Steig’s books have received the Christopher Award, the Irma Simonton Black Award, the William Allen White Children’s Book Award, and the American Book Award. His European awards include the Premio di Letteratura per l’infanzia (Italy), the Silver Pencil Award (the Netherlands), and the Prix de la Fondation de France. On the basis of his entire body of work, Steig was selected as the 1982 U.S. candidate for the Hans Christian Andersen Medal for Illustration and subsequently as the 1988 U.S. candidate for Andersen Medal for Writing. Steig published 13 collections of drawings for adults, beginning with About People in 1939 and including The Lonely Ones, Male/Female, The Agony in the Kindergarten, and Our Miserable Life. He died in Boston at the age of 95.

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

Matthew Hancock (Philip/Ensemble) At the age of four I knew I wanted to be an actor. Whether it was playing imagination in my backyard, on a stage, or in front of the camera, I just wanted to play. So, at the age of 17, I left Columbus, Ohio. I graduated from The New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts, School of Film and Television and received my BFA from Adelphi University. I have done really cool projects such as Click Clack Moo, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Stuart Little, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the new show “Prince of Peoria” coming to Netflix this fall. I have won awards from The Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle, Stage Raw, as well as nominations from NAACP Theatre Awards and LA Stage Alliance Ovation Awards. Never stop dreaming! Never stop playing!

​​​Doug Harvey (Amos) When I was 7 years old, on vacation with my extended family, I opened a cabinet containing a VHS tape (sort of like an old DVD) of actor/comedian Billy Crystal doing funny faces and impressions. I loved his routine so much that I memorized the entire act and later performed it for my family at the dinner table. Since then, I’ve been an actor. I went to school for acting in New York City and in London. My favorite professional theatre roles are characters you might know: Flat Stanley, the Boy from Roald Dahl’s The Witches, and Milo from one of my favorite books, The Phantom Tollbooth. You might also have seen me performing the live planetarium shows at Griffith Observatory. One fun fact: Jessica, our director for Amos & Boris, has directed me in three other shows including a production at Walt Disney Concert Hall with the Los Angeles Philharmonic!

Michael Manuel (Boris) When I was little I thought that when I grew up, I would be a football player or some kind of athlete. I loved the idea of being part of a team. Doing hard work together to accomplish a goal, and to make people happy. Then, when I was 17, I saw my first play. It was set in a house and, during the second act, someone made coffee and the whole theatre smelled like coffee. I couldn’t believe how cool that was. Once I started doing theatre myself, I realized how much it was like being on a team; it felt like I was playing sports again because I was using my body to accomplish a goal. I was doing hard work, but I was having fun. And making people happy. I started working as an actor in Seattle, doing theatre and TV and a couple of movies. Then I decided I wanted to go to school to study acting, so I went to the Yale School of Drama. I met so many great friends there and we were all on the same team. Some of my best friends are my classmates (teammates!) from theatre school. I do all kinds of things now: I write stuff, I do improv, I do voices for video games, movies, I do some work in TV. But mostly I do plays. Lots and lots of plays! In fact, I’ve done more than 100 plays since the first one I saw when I was 17.

Klarissa Mesee (​​​​​​​Stacey/Ensemble) I fell in love with theatre at age 7 when my mom took me to see my first musical. I loved it so much that she signed me up for the next show at our community theatre. When I was 12, I started school at the Orange County School of the Arts, where I learned how to sing, act and dance. More importantly, I made my lifelong friends there. We even traveled together to New York City and took summer musical theatre classes at New York University. I graduated from UCLA where I studied theatre, film and television. After that, I started performing all over LA at theatres like Moonlight, The Magic Castle, SCR, McCoy Rigby Entertainment at the La Mirada Theatre, East West Players and Chance Theater.
I currently work as an entertainment vocalist at Disneyland, where you can see me painting maps and hanging with my very good friend, Mulan, in Mickey and the Magical Map. I hope you enjoy the show!

Carina Morales (​​​​Minden/Ensemble) I graduated from the University of California, Irvine, with a BA in drama and honors in musical theatre. After college, I moved to New York City and performed in plays and musicals at some wonderful theatres, such as The York Theatre Company and T. Schreiber Studio & Theatre. I have also traveled all over the world performing as a singer on board Silversea and Seabourn​ and Holland America cruise ships—I have visited more than 80 countries! Some of my other favorite roles have included a singing friend of Belle in The Golden Mickeys at Hong Kong Disneyland, The Mummy in Monster Rock at Universal Studios Singapore and Lucille in the national tour of Junie B. Jones. I am a proud member of Actors Equity Association, the union for professional actors.

​​​​​​​​Aviva Pressman (​​​​​​Gretchen/Ensemble) I’m an actor, singer, clown, calligrapher, juggler, visual artist, and voiceover actor living in Los Angeles. I also make super fancy balloon animals and can probably sing higher than just about anyone you know. I’ve done a lot of plays for kids, such as Five Little Monkeys and Rudolph the Musical, and you might have heard my voice in an anime, in a commercial, or even coming out of a toy you have at home. I’ve performed all over the country from big theatres like Madison Square Garden and The Kennedy Center, to smaller ones like Sacred Fools, where I’m an Artistic Director. I’m a little bit scared of fish so please send me brave thoughts during the scenes where I’m playing one.

​​​​​​​​​Daisuke Tsuji (​​​​​​​Carl/Ensemble) I have been acting as long as I can remember, always pretending to be a cat, a crab or a normal kid. Growing up, I was like Amos: I felt like I didn’t belong anywhere, until I started taking theatre classes in high school. I continued to study theatre at UCLA, where I wrote a play called Monkey Madness in which my friends and I acted like monkeys. My monkey business continued as I ran away with the circus, to Cirque du Soleil, as a clown, and then got into serious clowning as a Fool in Shakespeare’s King Lear at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. The life of an actor takes a lot of work and patience. What makes it all worthwhile are the friends I’ve made on my voyage, with whom I can sing, dance and share cheese.
Creative Team
Jessica Kubzansky (Director) My mother predicted that I would be a director because in nursery school, I managed to get the other kids to fold my blanket for me. When I was 12, I wrote, directed and acted in a musical called The Horse with Two Lovers. The play told the story of two people who wanted to own the same horse because they thought the horse would win a race. I played the horse, my sister played the horse’s rightful owner and my brother played everyone else. In the end, the bad guy was foiled, the horse won, she and her true owner were reunited—and sang about it. I loved it. And I still love directing, because my job is to take stories that start as words on the page and bring them to three-dimensional thrilling human life. You may have also seen my work at SCR in Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and The Stinky Cheese Man. To this day, children’s literature is my favorite, because it’s an E-ticket to the imagination. The theatre is the only place where a person makes a “knocking” motion in the air and the entire audience imagines a door. In theatre, anything’s possible.

Deborah Wicks La Puma (Music Director) I am a composer and music director who loves working at SCR, where my musicals Ella Enchanted and Jane of the Jungle have played. Some of my favorite shows that I have music-directed at SCR include The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, James and the Giant Peach, A Year with Frog and Toad, Imagine and The Only Child. I have been doing shows for kids and grown-ups for more than 20 years. My favorite thing to do is write musicals, including South Coast Repertory’s upcoming Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Rock Experience; 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 years old and studied music at Stanford University and New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. While I have not sailed the world to find adventure, I do enjoy taking hikes and living with my fellow mammal family in Placentia, CA. Check out my website:

François-Pierre Couture (Scenic Design) I moved from Montréal (that’s right, Canada) to Los Angeles to complete my master’s degree in scenic and lighting design at UCLA in 2006. This redhead loves to imagine and make tiny models of giant sets so actors can play with them. I also like to hear the reaction of an audience when it discovers the stage for the first time. Aside from a superhero squirrel in Flora & Ulysses, making a Princess fly in The Light Princess, shining colorful lights for Pinocchio at SCR—and designing sets in theatres like The Theatre @ Boston Court, Cherry Lane Theatre in New York City or Arena Stage in Washington, D.C.—I teach young and bright students at East Los Angeles College and Cal State Long Beach. If you want to know more about what I like (and what I don't like, such as whiny people and raw onions), you can visit me at

Denitsa Bliznakova (Costume Design) I am originally from Bulgaria, a country in Europe. As I child, I learned drawing, painting and photography from my father, who was my first art teacher. I especially enjoyed drawing people and developing my own photos. As a child, I also played the piano and loved classical music. When I was 13, I immigrated to the USA with my family. Since I did not speak English at the time, the art and music departments at my school felt like home. There, I could speak through my art and music. In college, I studied fashion design and also theatre design. Now, I am a professional costume designer working in theatre, opera and film. As a costume designer, I am able to combine all of my skills and interests and work in many different places across the country. My experience has allowed me to become a professor. I am the head of a graduate design and technology program at San Diego State University, where I help students reach their dreams of becoming a designer in the theatre, TV and film industries.

Rose Malone (Lighting Design) I fell in love with theatre in my junior year of high school. I had a drama teacher who believed in me and urged me to explore the stage. I soon fell in love with lighting and have never looked back. I studied theatre at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, AZ, and last year received my MA from the California Institute of the Arts in Los Angeles. In grad school, I often took video and embedded electronic classes that taught me alternate ways to use lights on stage to tell a more detailed and beautiful story. Recently, I have designed locally for The Theatre @ Boston Court, Echo Theatre and Theatre of Note.

John Nobori (Sound Design) When I was a small child, I fell in love with theatre when I was cast as a gnome in a play for theatre camp. Later, I got to sing songs and act in school plays. At the University of California, Irvine, I played guitar in a rock band and read a lot about classic plays. I still love theatre to this day. My favorite part about working in theatre is getting to write music that sends people to far-off lands in their imagination. I helped write the music for The Story of Frog Belly Rat Bone, which is a fun show about a monster made out of trash. Frog Belly still visits schools and teaches kids about the importance of friendship. I’m very excited to share my first South Coast Repertory young audiences sound design with you.

Susan Gratch (Puppet Designer) I am the oldest of 10 siblings: eight sisters and one brother (the youngest!). My mother is an accomplished fabric artist and my father was a highly regarded chemical engineer—perhaps explaining why I chose to become a scenic designer, combining art and engineering. In fifth grade, my parents took me to see My Fair Lady at Detroit’s Masonic Temple; the music and the acting were nice, but the scene changes were riveting. I was hooked! After completing my MFA in theatre design at University of Michigan, I eventually ended up in California, where I am a professor of design at Occidental College. My award-winning scenic, lighting and puppet designs have been seen in Los Angeles; Portland, OR; Salt Lake City, UT; at the Atlanta Olympics; and now I’m in Costa Mesa working with amazing artists (and mice, a whale, fish and others.) I love my job!

Kimberly Colburn (Dramaturg) All growing up, I wanted to have a job where I could read A LOT. My parents told me it would never happen, but I got the last laugh because now I’m the literary director at SCR and I read plays all the time for my job. As a dramaturg, I work with the playwright (and the rest of the cast and creative team) to help make the play the best that it can be. I also write articles for the blog and the program notes (like the ones in this book).

Kathryn Davies (Stage Manager) I grew up in Nova Scotia, Canada, where I studied piano, ukulele, recorder and tap dancing. My parents took me to see a lot of shows and I decided to become a stage manager when I was in the 12th grade. My high school drama teacher, Mr. Drew, inspired me to do this. Throughout the years, I have studied French, Italian, German and Spanish, which has helped me to work on big opera productions. I am very grateful to my parents for making me keep up with my music lessons, because if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do now. Today, I get to work with amazingly creative actors, directors, designers, singers, musicians and film stars in several countries.

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.

Aviva Pressman, Matthew Hancock, Klarissa Mesee, Daisuke Tsuji and Doug Harvey in "Amos & Boris." Photo by Jordan Kubat.
Klarissa Mesee, Doug Harvey, Aviva Pressman, Daisuke Tsuji and Matthew Hancock in "Amos & Boris." Photo by Jordan Kubat.
Aviva Pressman, Doug Harvey and Michael Manuel in "Amos & Boris. Photo by Jordan Kubat.
The cast of "Amos & Boris." Photo by Jordan Kubat.
"Amos & Boris" Photo by Jordan Kubat.
​Doug Harvey and Carina Morales in "Amos & Boris." Photo by Jordan Kubat.
"Amos & Boris" Photo by Jordan Kubat.
Doug Harvey and Carina Morales in "Amos & Boris." Photo by Jordan Kubat.
Klarissa Mesee, Doug Harvey, Matthew Hancock, Daisuke Tsuji and Aviva Pressman in "Amos & Boris." Photo by Jordan Kubat.
Carina Morales, Aviva Pressman and Michael Manuel in "Amos & Boris." Photo of Jordan Kubat.
​Aviva Pressman, Doug Harvey, Klarissa Mesee and Daisuke Tsuji in "Amos & Boris." Photo by Joran Kubat.
​Doug Harvey, Carina Morales, Klarissa Mesee, Matthew Hancock and Daisuke Tsuji in "Amos & Boris." Photo by Jordan Kubat.
Doug Harvey and Michael Manuel in "Amos & Boris." Photo by Jordan Kubat.
From the Blog
William SteigMeet William Steig, Author of Amos & Boris
William Steig might be best remembered as the creator of Shrek!, but he enjoyed an accomplished career as a cartoonist, illustrator and author of children’s books. Learn more about Steig and his work.
The Cast of Amos & BorisMeet the Cast: Amos & Boris
The new musical, Amos & Boris, is fun and funny—and the actors who portray the critter characters is a mix of new and returning actors all are diving into their roles. In this Q&A, they dish on what makes the show special.
Amos & BorisFinding Your Place in the World
Amos is the oddest mouse in Mouse Town. When he leaves for an adventure at sea, his life takes an unexpected turn and an unlikely friendship develops. ​Learn more about the unlikeliest of friends in Amos & Boris.
Amos & Boris PuppetsMeet Susan Gratch, Puppet Designer for Amos & Boris
As puppet designer for Amos & Boris, Susan Gratch had to create a whale, elephant, fish and other sea creatures. Learn more about Gratch and her design work in this Q&A.
Amos & Boris Directors NotesCreating the Beautiful and Whimsical World of Amos & Boris
Jessica Kubzansky, director of the new musical Amos & Boris, explains the design challenges of creating a magical world involving mice, an elephant, a whale and other fascinating sea creatures.
Sofia Alvarez on Amos & BorisMeet Sofia Alvarez, Playwright of Amos & Boris
Playwright Sofia Alvarez makes her debut in musical theatre for young audiences with her adaptation of Amos & Boris.​ Learn more about her process of bringing this children’s classic to the stage.

Susan Bowman & Freddie Greenfield
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