WarnerMedia Kids & Family and Stampede Ventures have unveiled the cast of esteemed children’s book author Mo Willems’ upcoming Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Underground Rock Experience. The one-hour CGI-animated rock opera will feature the voice talents of Jordan Fisher as Wilbur, the sensitive, curious and brave mole rat; Yvette Nicole Brown as Grande, a member of Mole Rat society’s popular crowd and front mole of the Tunnel’s Rock Band; Kate Micucci as Tall, a rule-follower with a heart of gold; Kevin Michael Richardson as Venti, a big lug that needs just two things in life: rocking out with his bandmates and being stark raving naked!; and Carol Kane as Grand-Mah, the larger-than-life matriarch of the Mole Rat society.
Additional voice cast includes Ron Funches as Les Pants the Weather Mole, Thomas Lennon as Stark Naked the News Mole, and Jenna Ushkowitz as the Secret Service Mole. The special will rock n’ roll its way onto Cartoonito on HBO Max next year.
Based on Willems’s New York Times best-selling book and the sold-out theatrical rock experience, Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Underground Rock Experience is a CGI animated rock music special that wears its heart on its sleeve. Wilbur Mole Rat and all his Fellow Mole Rats in the Tunnel have always been, well…naked. But when Wilbur discovers clothing and a love for style, the Tunnel turns upside down! An animated hour of “underground” music and comedy about being comfortable in your own skin, this adaptation of the popular theatre experience will knock your socks on!
Willems and Tom Warburton co-wrote the script with original tunes by Willems and composer Deborah Wicks La Puma. Willems and Warburton will executive produce alongside Stampede Ventures’ Greg Silverman and Jay Judah, with OddBot Animation Studios serving as animation house. Megan Alrutz will also serve as producer on behalf of the Mo Willems Workshop. Songs are produced by Dan Petty, Doug Petty, and Michelle Lewis.
Here is a breakdown of the main characters:
Wilbur – voiced by singer/actor Jordan Fisher (Work It) – is a sensitive, curious and brave mole rat. He sees the best (dressed) in everyone and is a dreamer always looking at the clouds when everyone else has tunnel vision. Wilbur thinks there has to be more to life than just being 100% naked 500% of the time. And when random articles of clothing start falling from the sky, he sees his chance to be different by wearing them! Even if that means not fitting in with Mole Rat society, or more importantly, his friends.
Grande – voiced by Yvette Nicole Brown (Community) – is the popular kid and, consequently, the one with the most to lose if the rules of nakedness in Mole Rat society change. She’s bold, brash and ever so confident (even if some of that confidence comes from a place of naked insecurity). As the front mole of the Tunnel’s Rock Band, she’s never seen without her bandmates Tall, Venti and Wilbur. But her friendship is put to the test when Wilbur starts wearing clothes, something she’s not ready to accept.
Tall – voiced by Kate Micucci (Garfunkel and Oates) – is a rule-follower with a heart of gold. Tall in name yet short in stature, she’s a voice of reason who thinks she can see where Wilbur is coming from with his non-nakedness but is not brave enough to stand up to the rest of Mole Rat society.
Venti – voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson (Yabba-Dabba Dinosaurs) – is a big lug that needs just two things in life: Rocking out with his bandmates and being stark, raving naked! While not the deepest cave in the tunnel, he’s got the biggest heart of any mole and will do anything for his friends.
Grand-Mah – voiced by Carol Kane (The Princess Bride) – is the larger-than-life matriarch of Mole Rat society. She dug The Tunnel with her own teeth and thus attained legendary status. And while the posters and propaganda depicting her reflect youth, vigor and dominance, in reality she’s grown both longer in tooth and shorter in stature. Regardless of age, she’s lost none of her intimidating veneer, sagely wisdom and dislike of oxymorons.
Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Underground Rock Experience is part of WarnerMedia’s multi-year deal with Willems and producing partner Stampede Ventures to create live-action Storytime Specials and multiple animated and live-action series based on the author’s wildly popular children’s books, which are adored by kids and adults alike. Willems’ first HBO Max live-action special, Mo Willems and The Storytime All-Stars Present: Don’t Let the Pigeon Do Storytime! received wide acclaim, garnering multiple award nominations including a 2021 Writers Guild Award and two 2021 Daytime Emmy Awards. Mo Willems and The Storytime All-Stars Present: Don’t Let the Pigeon Do Storytime! can be streamed now on HBO Max.
About WarnerMedia Kids & Family
WarnerMedia Kids & Family is the united group within the WarnerMedia enterprise that offers an expansive content slate on HBO Max and Cartoon Network. As the umbrella brand for all kids and family content, Cartoon Network reenergized its brand promise through its new tagline Redraw Your World, which empowers individuality and aims to be the place where kids are free to be themselves. With hundreds of hours of original series, specials and acquisitions, the WarnerMedia Kids & Family portfolio features its Cartoonito preschool programming block; a roster of upcoming animation and live-action originals that appeal to kids of all ages; and ACME Night, a weekend entertainment destination for families to enjoy a line-up of library favorites and blockbuster hits as well as new originals that will include Batman: Caped Crusader, Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai, Unicorn: Warriors Eternal, and more. A marquee collection of powerhouse brands and expertise marks WarnerMedia Kids & Family as a global leader wherever its brands live and engage with audiences all over the world.
About The Mo Willems Workshop
The Mo Willems Workshop is focused on creating meaningful media that excites, expands, and encourages creativity and art making in children and former children alike. Author, illustrator, playwright Mo Willems serves as the Executive Producer, although The Pigeon has some ideas.
About Stampede Ventures
Stampede Ventures is an independent entertainment media company founded by Greg Silverman, the former President of Warner Bros. Pictures. The company’s lead investor and co-chairman is Gideon Yu, former CFO of Facebook and YouTube, and co-owner of the San Francisco 49ers. Additional investors include leaders from Silicon Valley, Asia and the U.S. media space. Stampede Ventures is on the forefront of content creation across the divisions of film, television, international and alternative programming. Their debut film, Pink Skies Ahead, premiered to critical acclaim at AFI Fest 2020, sold to MTV Studios and premiered on MTV on May 8, 2021. Stampede Ventures also recently inked an international First Look deal with CBS Studios.