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  • Writer's pictureBroadway Beat

The Actor's Process: Cast Uses Own Personal Trauma for Inspiration in "Winnie the Pooh” Musical

by Steven Verdile. Instagram @StevenVerdileCreative. Twitter @StevenVerdile.

NEW YORK, NY - Motivating their captivating performances of classic children’s characters, the cast of the new “Winnie the Pooh” off-broadway musical has reportedly been using their own personal trauma for artistic inspiration.

“Honestly the show has made me really grateful to have a childhood history of anxiety and low self-esteem,” said Wayne Stevens, who plays Piglet, a character who we can only assume spends two hours deciding if he should end his email with “Thank you” or the more casual “Thanks”. “I really credit my overall nervous demeanor and lack of confidence for my uncanny ability to embody such a small, meek little farm mammal.”

Stevens is not the only actor in the show using their personal experiences to fuel their character’s melancholy spirit. Just ask his castmate Bert Shannon, who gave us similar remarks.

“When I first got this role I wondered if I could be authentic and believable... and I doubted myself,” said Shannon, whose head drooped low, much like his eyelids. “But as I dug deeper, I thought about all the money and time I’ve dedicated to this career, and how all that hardwork and effort led me to be a blue donkey performing for whatever scraps of money that evil mouse corporation would reluctantly give me. At that moment I realized, this character is my truth. I am Eeyore.”

The casting directors were impressively committed to finding actors who mirrored the struggles of their character, going as far as to make it an audition requirement. One casting call indicates that in order to pursue the role of the titular honey-loving bear, you “absolutely must” have an insatiable sweet tooth.

“Do I think this show is appropriate for children? Of course it is,” said the show’s director, Erica Norton, who was quick to defend the musical when critics implied a group of mentally ill actors who puppet woodland animals might be too disturbing for young audiences.”They eat their boogers, they talk to imaginary friends, and they have those tiny hands but pretty big heads. Children are just as weird and distraught as the rest of us.”

She doubled down on that sentiment as she ended her rant.

“If you think your anxiety is bad, just imagine being a six-year-old TikTok addict with a looming climate crisis ahead of you. Those kids… they are who this show is for.”


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