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New characters have been brought in for the show.


Published: Sun, March 26, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.


New characters have been brought in for the show.
By L. CROW
VINDICATOR CORRESPONDENT
YOUNGSTOWN -- Those lovable characters of "Sesame Street" will once again take up residence on the stage of Powers Auditorium.
Sesame Street Live, now in its 26th year, is bringing a new show to Youngstown called "Out of This World." In the show, Big Bird, Elmo, Grover and the whole gang are visited by Martians whose spaceship breaks down. The Martians learn all about people in other countries, and everyone learns cooperation, how to get along, how to make friends and to not be afraid of others who may be different.
Jack Pence, general manager of production services at VEE Corp., the company that produces the presentations, shares the inner scoop on the creation of those awesome sets, props, lighting and special effects.
"For each new production, we first get information from the creative team, which includes the writer, director, choreographer," said Pence. "Then we build a tiny model of the show out of cardboard and paper. We have to take into consideration what it will be used for -- what it has to do, how it will do it and how big it will have to be. Sometimes it turns out it would be too big to fit in the truck, so we have to plan again.
"In this particular show, the spaceship is the most important prop. It has to hold the two Martians [the Yup-Yups]. It shows up as a shadow, then a puff of smoke, then it appears onstage with blinking lights. It is basically a combination of fog, lighting and sound effects. The actual spaceship is made of aluminum, wood and plastic. When you see it backstage, it looks kind of 'so what?' but in context with everything else, it is impressive."
An imaginary journey
In this show, the "real" human is a girl named Terry, who is the "fix-it" person. While she is trying to repair the spaceship, Grover and his friends take the Martians on an imaginary journey to other countries.
"We have begun incorporating video into our shows," said Pence. "There is a big screen in the center of the backdrop, where we will project videos of people in other countries, such as children playing. We will also travel to the inside of Elmo's computer to see what goes on inside."
The Yup-Yups are new characters for the shows, although they have appeared on the TV series, Pence said. "They have a limited vocabulary. They mostly say 'Yup,' so the 'Sesame Street' characters teach them words in English and Spanish."
Though there are usually several different Sesame Street Live shows touring the country at once (there are currently four), there is only one copy of each show. Moving it around is no easy task.
"The props and set range from everyday items to very complicated, and the cost of some [such as the spaceship] can be in the multithousand-dollar range," said Pence. "It takes about eight hours to set up and about four to tear down. Everything has to break down into small pieces to fit in our two semi-trucks."


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