A Mouse who knows me was a brilliant and thought-provoking musical produced by Annex theatre in October and November of 2012. The play was written by Scotto Moore with Music by Robertson Whitmer and directed by Christina Sutherland. The script called for two full body mouse puppets to interact with (and for one to murder) human scientists in a lab.
By injecting human genes into the stem cells of our mouse hero Romeo, he develops both human empathy and intelligence. Romeo’s gifts are soon recognized and he is bred with stronger and more aggressive mice to produce intelligent and strong super-mice for military purposes. His “brainiac progeny” D29-1 is a super aggressive and intelligent mouse who plots a bloody revolution to free all of his fellow mice in captivity.
The playwright even employed two Ph.D.’s as consultants for the story concept, genetics principles and lab mice. Since the story was grounded in actual science, it was important for me to make the puppets look like real lab mice. The two characteristics I was held to were all white mice with bloody red eyes. It was a tricky thing to create a sympathetic character with beady red eyes, but after playing around with Romeos features for a few days I settled on a look I was happy with. D29-1 is larger, stronger and more aggressive. I made him about 20% larger than Romeo, made his eyes considerably more angry and took a notch out of his left ear to make him look tougher. It was very important for the audience to immediately differentiate between the two when either appeared on stage.
Both puppets were performed by actors with little or no puppetry experience, and I had the pleasure of working with them on their puppet skills. K. Brian Neel played the role of Romeo and Tadd Morgan was D29-1. Both guys did a spectacular job and really worked well with the puppets. It felt really good to work with these talented actors to help bring my creations to life, I was a proud papa.
During rehearsals, I created 2 simple puppets for K. Brian and Tadd to work with while I was creating the final versions of Romeo & D29-1. Later in rehearsals my director wanted to use them as Romeo’s children in the final scene as he says goodnight for the last time. And while they are not up to my usual standards, I was happy to fix them up for the scene to give it the end the emotional weight it needed.
It was a joy and a privilege to see this amazing work come to life, from the first read-through to the final performance. Annex does amazing work, and if A Mouse who Knows me is any indication this will not be the last time I work with them. Bravo Annex, Bravo.
Thanks for stopping by, “Feel” you later…