By Adam Cohen . . .
There is, admittedly, a visceral thrill and wide smile under our masks, as the lights dim and the Sesame Street Muppets appear. Who can resist Grover, Ernie, Bert, The Count, Oscar, and Cookie Monster live on stage?
This is not the mass market smile and wave of recorded life size Muppets in The Felt Forum of your youth. These are the public television/HBO-sized Muppets and voices charming with their greatest hits and new selections. Though it’s not brought to you by the number two or the letter z, it is an exciting, welcome, educational hour of theater for kids of all ages.
One by one the Muppets join us to present your favorite songs. Oscar, ever grouchy, regales us with “I Love Trash.” Here he leaps from his trash can to other positions on stage, allowing fans to see him from a variety of vantage points. Ernie takes a bath and sings to his favorite rubber duck, while bubbles ascend from the ceiling to excited coos. Who can complain about cookie crumbs while Cookie Monster chomps and sings “C is for Cookie”? He turns serious for a moment with his version of “Me Am What Me Am.” This clever nod to theater and self-hood is a delight.
The show has a slight storyline around these songs – where special guest star Steve must learn to sing, dance, get a costume, and gain confidence to perform. He’s helped by the stage manager Sheep, Elmo, Abby Cadabby, Gabrielle and Rosita. If nervous, we learn to take a deep breath in a cute new song.
Directed and Written by Jonathan Rockefeller, the show bounces along, delighting its core audience. The new songs by Broadway veterans Tom Kitt (Almost Famous) and Helen Park (KPOP) and Nate Edmondson are future classics sure to be on any parent’s playlist. The theater is adorned with posters from Muppet spoofs of Broadway shows – Five: The musical; Waiter; and Little Shop of Hoopers.
As is the case with most entertainment, there are trinkets to purchase – including a very special photo opp with select characters.
The production is never less than fully professional, filled with that magic of Sesame Street charm, and engagingly entertaining. There is something truly extraordinary about being in the live company of the characters you and your kid’s may have grown up with. As my daughter casually reminded me on the way to the show, “Elmo” was one of her first words. For the record, “wow” was her first and this show certainly does that and more.
Tickets and more information at https://sesamestreetmusical.com/