Cartoonito on HBO Max's animated rock opera based on the bestselling author’s picture book and sold-out theatrical show tells the tale of a rockin’ naked mole rat who shockingly puts on some clothes.
In a nod to rock stars, fashion icons and naked mole rat lovers, Mo Willems’ fan-favorite Naked Mole Rat, Wilbur J. Mole Rat, Jr., will emerge from his underground tunnel on Thursday, June 30, on Cartoonito on HBO MAX, in Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Underground Rock Experience! The CG animated hour of “underground” music and comedy will also debut later on Cartoonito on Cartoon Network.
Based on Willems’ New York Times best-selling picture book, “Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed” (Hyperion) and sold-out theatrical rock experience (Seattle Children’s Theater, The Alliance Theater, and venues across the nation), the animated rock opera tells the fun and funny tale of a sensitive, curious, and rockin’ Naked Mole Rat named Wilbur (voiced by Jordan Fisher) who “scandalously” decides to (gasp!) get dressed! The message of authenticity and accepting others are in perfect harmony with Cartoonito’s Humancentric Learning Framework.
Additional voice cast members include Yvette Nicole Brown as Grande, a member of Mole Rat society’s popular crowd and front mole of the Tunnel’s Rock Band “The Mole-ing Stones”; 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!; Carol Kane as Grand-Mah, the larger-than-life-but-smaller-than-expected matriarch of the Mole Rat society; Ron Funches as Les Pants, the Weather Mole; Thomas Lennon as Stark Naked, the Newscaster; and Jenna Ushkowitz as a jammin’ Secret Service Mole.
Willems and Tom Warburton co-wrote the script with original tunes by Willems (lyrics) and Deborah Wicks La Puma (music). Willems and Warburton executive produce alongside Stampede Ventures’ Greg Silverman and Jay Judah, with OddBot Animation Studios serving as animation house. Megan Alrutz is producer on behalf of the Mo Willems Workshop. Songs are produced by Dan Petty, Doug Petty, and Michelle Lewis.
Watch the Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Underground Rock Experience trailer:
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 popular children’s books. 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 – it is now available for streaming on HBO Max.
Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.