The Story Behind the Photo: "Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Rock Experience"

Tania Thompson
 | Jun 18, 2021
Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed
Marqell Edward Clayton, Nicole Cowans, Melody Butiu and Daniel Bellusci in ​Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Rock Experience, script and lyrics by Mo Willems and music by Deborah Wicks La Puma (2019, Theatre for Young Audiences show). Photo by Debora Robinson.

About ​​​Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed

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!

Six actors transformed themselves into a colony of naked molerats in the fun musical Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Rock Experience (2019, Theatre for Young Audiences), adapted by Mo Willems from his book and directed by Casey Stangl. Daniel Bellusci portrayed Wilbur J. Mole Rat Jr.—above in the blue plaid suit—a character who wanted to be true to himself. Bellusci loved this comically shocking moment from the show.

What moment does this depict?

This ​is Wilbur (me), along with other mole rats Tall and Grande, while Venti is pressing the Grand-pah Grand Panic Button. It is only to be pressed in the state of a dire emergency and, from the look of Wilbur's attire, the mole-rats seem to be in the middle of a truly shocking situation! 

How did you work to make this moment happen?

This was one of those moments that Director Casey Stangl had us rehearse over and over. We had a lot of freedom in our delivery, but Casey made it clear to us that the timing of this had to be spot on. It was written in the script as a "Who's on First?" moment, so the timing of each line was crucial in order for it to be as funny as it could be. We did a lot of repetitions of this scene to find the timing and deliveries that felt the best and most funny to us. 

What’s the emotion in this moment?

The emotion for us, in this moment, as molerats is true terror. But to everyone in the audience watching, I am sure they were able to see how silly and fun it really was. 

Anything else you’d like to say about the photo or the production?

I really loved the theme of this show. I think everyone needs to have some kind of experience of self-discovery. Once we find out who we are, or who we might want to become, it would be rather nice if we lived in a world that celebrated and accepted differences. I think the world has a lot to learn from Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed