Lifeline Theatre’s new production, “Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed” is chock-full of family fun.
The musical play, adapted from Mo Willem’s best-selling picture book uses quirky wit and humor to explore the importance of individuality and tolerance. Adapted for stage by Robert Zauzlaric, the story features Nathaniel Niemi as Wilbur, a naked mole rat who loves to wear clothes. His interest however, is met with derision from his teacher and peers who can’t understand why Wilbur wants to be different. Eventually Wilbur, along with his best friend Esther (Ellie Reed) and the rest of the pups take the issue to Grand-pah the oldest, wisest (and most naked) mole rat in the colony. What results is a lesson on self-expression, acceptance and snazzy dressing.
Niemi’s exuberance as clothes-loving Wilbur is infectious and Julia Stemper and Morgan Maher are spot on as bullies Rhonda and Beauregard. The simple set helps keep the focus on the performance and the choreography is fresh and fun. (Who knew naked mole rats could do the “robot?”) The show also provides an excellent segue for parents to talk to their kids about tolerance, kindness and acceptance, three things that never go out of style.
“Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed” runs through May 6th at the Lifeline Theatre, which is located at 6912 Glenwood Avenue in Chicago. For information about tickets and show times visit www.lifelinetheatre.com. Be sure to ask about their special Sunday afternoon “Stories come Alive” events, which feature interactive storytelling, games and more.