What a run! For the past 15 years Melissa Alrto, one of Canada’s premier voice talents, has been playing Muffy Crosswire on the 4-time Emmy-Award-winning series Arthur. Recently, Melissa spoke with me on the phone about her career, what it means to be Muffy and her coaching services.
Oh, Muffy Me! An Interview with Voice Actor Melissa Altro
Stephanie: How did you get the audition for Muffy on the television program, “Arthur?”
Melissa Altro: In September of 1994, I got a call from my agent at the time about the audition. It was my first time trying out for the role of a cartoon character. I had so much fun in the studio reading for a bunch of different roles on the series. When they called to tell me I got the part of Muffy, I was so excited to get started.
Stephanie: How much of Melissa is in Muffy?
MA: I was definitely an outspoken little girl and loved to play roles and take charge like Muffy does. I hope at this point, as a grown up, I’m a little less pushy about my opinions than Muffy is! Ha!
Stephanie: You mentioned over the phone that you grew up on recording Muffy’s voice on the show. Are there any memories in particular that you’d like to share about being a child voice actor and what that was like? Mark Hauser
MA: It was always a treat to record in the studio throughout my childhood / teenager years because I felt like I was a part of something really special (I especially loved to be let out of school early on a recording day!). I especially had a blast recording the songs for the show and working with the other actors. They are such a talented bunch of people.
Stephanie: How often to you see other members of the Arthur voice cast? Do you record the show in the same studio together or do you each come in separately to perform?
MA: All of the original cast members are living in Montreal. So I haven’t seen them in over 5 years now. There are a few cast members that I see at recording sessions here in Toronto, but we rarely actually record together in the booth. Mostly we go in to record separately (it’s more time and money efficient that way).
Stephanie: Do you have a favourite episode of the show? If so, what makes it so special to you?
MA: I really get a kick out of the episode called It’s Only Rock n’ Roll with the Backstreet Boys show. I was a teenager at the time when we recorded it and a huge Backstreet Boys fan (blushing), so I was pretty excited about being able to sing on a track with them. Muffy gets this idea that she’s the manager of their dreams and sings about it. Pretty funny stuff!
Stephanie: When children star in animated cartoons as the voice of a character, more often than not they lose their roles when they hit puberty or are unable to stay true to the character in terms of their voice has matured. While this is particularly true for boys, for instance, the character of Arthur has been recast a number of times, there are also girls who move on from their roles and which are recast with a soundalike. Bearing in mind that Arthur has been running now for over a decade, and I’m wondering how it is that you’ve managed to retain your role. Why do you think you are still able to voice Muffy, a third-grader, into your twenties?