THE CAST (clockwise from left): Daisuke Tsuji, Michael Manuel, Doug Harvey, Carina Morales, Aviva Pressman, Klarissa Mesee and Matthew Hancock.
The brand new young audiences musical, Amos & Boris, is fun and funny—and the actors who portray the critter characters (including Amos the Mouse, Boris the Whale, an elephant, sea creatures and others) are having a grand time of it. Most of the cast members are making their SCR debuts, but we welcome back some alumni and all are diving into their roles. They recently took some time during rehearsals to answer some of our questions.
Name: Matthew Hancock (Philip, Ensemble Member) is making his SCR debut.
But wait: He did a workshop for Amos & Boris here.
Other cool stuff: He’s been in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Stuart Little and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. His honors include awards from The Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle, Stage Raw, as well as nominations for NAACP Theatre Awards and LA Stage Alliance Ovation Awards.
Favorite book as a kid: The Little Engine That Could. It’s a story of determination and still inspires me now.
Favorite stuffed animal: A “pooch patrol” dog. He was really cool ‘cause you could turn his face and make him growl, or make him mild and sweet. He was the first thing I can remember earning by doing my chores. I never game him a name but he went with me everywhere. I recently gave him to my niece who was excited to get her “dog”.
Most fun thing about Amos & Boris: All the characters and costumes I get to play and wear. It has been so much fun building the world and characters of this musical. I really think this is a fun and enlightening story for children.
Name: Douglas Harvey (Amos) is making his SCR debut.
Oh, but: He did a workshop for Amos & Boris here.
Other cool stuff: His favorite young audiences roles have been Flat Stanley, from Roald Dahl's The Witches, and Milo from The Phantom Tollbooth. He also performs the live planetarium shows at Griffith Observatory.
Favorite book as a kid: My favorite childhood book was The Lorax by Dr. Seuss. The images of fluffy, colorful trees being chopped down were so visceral and scary to me, as was the mystery of the green-armed Once-ler who lived alone in a funky house that looked like it could fall down at any moment. I memorized the page turns before I even knew how to read. It's the first story I remember knowing by heart.
Favorite stuffed animal: My family got a Welsh corgi dog named Phoebe when I was 6. She was small like me, and very protective of our house (and her food bowl.) I also had a stuffed Kermit the Frog puppet who would sleep in my bunk bed with me. I liked to imitate his voice.
Most fun thing about Amos & Boris: To work with the creators! The playwright and musical composer have been in the room with us during rehearsals, and to have their thoughts on the world we are building is special, because it feels like we are creating a brand new story together.
Name: Michael Manuel (Boris)
Last time at SCR: A reading of Love & Contracts by Julia Doolittle at the Pacific Playwrights Festival in April. Before that, Tartuffe, Eurydice and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Favorite book as a kid: Actually, two of my favorite books are Frederick by Leo Lionni and The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. I loved them when my mom and dad first read them to me and I love and appreciate them even more today. Frederick (who coincidentally is a mouse!) taught me the importance of community, being there for your friends and the value of being an artist. One of the many lessons I learned from The Giving Tree is how important it is to be there for the ones you love.
Favorite stuffed animal: My first pet was my dog Brandy. She was a rescue and I loved her so much. Some of my friends thought she was chunky, but I thought she looked like a cute soup can.
Most fun thing about Amos & Boris: Working alongside my fellow actors, with Jessica's help (director Jessica Kubzansky), to create a town of mice, an ocean of sea creatures and getting to listen to the beautiful music and lyrics that Dan (Tierney, composer) and Sofia (Alvarez, playwright) have imagined.
Name: Klarissa Mesee (Stacey, Ensemble Member)
Last time at SCR: 4000 Miles and the Amos & Boris workshop.
Where she learned things: She’s an alumna of Orange County School of the Arts and UCLA.
Other cool stuff: She works as an entertainment vocalist at Disneyland (painting maps and hanging with Mulan, in Mickey and the Magical Map) .
Favorite book as a kid: I had a bunch! Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, because MAGIC! Oh, and I loved all the games in the TriWizard tournament! I loved the poetry books by Shel Silverstein, like Falling Up, Where the Sidewalk Ends and A Light in the Attic. The poems were so whimsical and funny and I LOVED the illustrations.
Favorite stuffed animal: A yellow teddy bear named Sunshine who I told all my secrets to and who snuggled with me at night. I still have him today!
Most fun thing about Amos & Boris: The puppets and characters I get to play with!! The whole world is so creative and colorful because we’re seeing it through the eyes of a mouse—it’s eye candy!
Name: Carina Morales (Minden, Ensemble Member) is making her SCR debut.
Where she learned things: She’s an alumna of UC Irvine.
Other cool stuff: She has worked in New York and performed as a singer on board Silversea and Seabourn, as well as Holland America cruise ships. She was a 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.
Favorite book as a kid: A Wrinkle In Time. It's clever, exciting, endlessly entertaining and delivers beautiful messages about embracing individuality—and the ultimate triumph of love.
Favorite stuffed animal: When I was a child, I had two cats, Princess and Misty. I also had an adorable hamster named Precious. Now I have a little orange cat named Giselle, who loves music and comes running when I sing!
Most fun thing about Amos & Boris: This musical lives in two very different, but equally fascinating worlds—Mouse Town on land, and the world of the sea. It's been really fun to get to know the many different characters who come together to tell this story, explore who they are, what they want and what they mean to each other. We have had a lot of fun figuring out how these creatures move (a mouse moves across the stage very differently than a fish, or an ocean wave!). It is always a wonderful, exciting privilege to be part of a new show.
Name: Aviva Pressman (Gretchen, Ensemble Member) is making her SCR debut.
Other work for young audiences: 5 Little Monkeys and Rudolph the Musical and she is a voice-actor for anime, commercials and toys.
Other cool stuff: She’s an artistic director at Sacred Fools Theater Company.
Favorite book as a kid: Shrek, which is by William Steig, the same author as Amos & Boris. I still have most of it memorized. I loved it because it was about being scary and ugly, but loving that about yourself (It’s very different than the Shrek movie). I was a weird kid and I just thought the book was hilarious.
Favorite stuffed animal: I had a doll named Fester, after the Addams Family. Told you I was a weird kid.
Most fun thing about Amos & Boris: Creating this world of crazy characters and seeing the cool puppets we’re going to use. But, I suspect seeing the reactions of the kids will be even better.
Name: Daisuke Tsuji (Carl, Ensemble Member)
Last time at SCR: Lauren Yee’s Cambodian Rock Band (both the Pacific Playwrights Festival reading and the production), and the playwrights festival reading of I Get Restless by Caroline V. McGraw .
Other places: He’s been in Cirque du Solei’s Dralion; onstage at The Theatre @ Boston Court, Antaeus Theatre Company and Oregon Shakespeare Festival; and in the TV shows “Brockmire” and “The Man in the High Castle.”
Favorite book as a kid: Guli and Gula. It’s about twin mice brothers who go on many different adventures. I liked it because it made me think of me and my brother.
Favorite stuffed animal: I had a big bear and lion stuffed animals. They were aptly named Mr. Bear and Mr. Lion. They had a show called “Mr. Bear and Mr. Lion,” which I used to make with my parents’ camcorder.
Most fun thing about Amos & Boris: All the snacks (cheese!) I get to eat backstage!
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