By John Benson
If we learned anything from the late NBC show “Smash,” it’s when it comes to Broadway productions, egos run wild. Specifically, the stars can act like preschoolers fighting over stage time, spotlights and solos.
So can the same be said about a Broadwaylike children’s touring production of Sesame Street Live “Elmo Makes Music” appearing Saturday and May 26 at Covelli Centre.
Sure, Elmo may get top billing but hasn’t rising star Abby Cadabby been angling for some of the red and fuzzy muppet’s publicity?
“No, not at all,” said Sesame Street Live Performance Director Jerry DuMars. “One thing with our characters is they embrace the fact one of their own has his own name in the title of the show. So it’s all good, and they support each other. She’s great. He’s great.”
Thankfully we have that cleared up regarding what is one of Sesame Street Live’s longest- running touring productions. DuMars said the reason for the popularity of “Elmo Makes Music” is simple: the 90-minute show features every popular character, making it a Sesame Street-palooza type of experience.
The plot involves enthusiastic new music teacher Jenny arriving on Sesame Street only to discover that her instruments are missing.
Naturally her new friends come to the rescue and create instruments out of trash-can lids, even cookie jars and rubber duckies. Parents with frayed nerves can relax knowing that the aforementioned noisy – and often annoying – sounds are keenly crafted into quintessential musical theater songs revolving around important messages such as learning patience, acceptance and teamwork.
Speaking of songs, in addition to obligatory Sesame Street tunes such as “C Is for Cookie” and “The Alphabet Song,” this production boasts classic mainstream tunes such as “The Hustle,” “You Should Be Dancing” and “Rockin’ Robin.”
“We have a lot of audience participation but I think for the parents they like the message and the flow of the show,” DuMars said. “It’s production number after production number, and there isn’t a lot of dialogue involved. So they can relate to the show because they can relate to their kids more.”
The other appealing factor for parents is all of their favorite characters from the ’70s and ’80s are present, making it somewhat of a walk down memory lane. Take The Count, who decades later still can’t count past 20. Oddly enough, DuMars said his popularity didn’t get a bump from the “Twilight” series frenzy.
“No, he didn’t,” DuMars laughed. “Although it’s funny, he does a walk on in the first act without a big introduction but you can hear the crowd roar. It’s nice to know the crowd recognizes him.”
Speaking of getting recognized but being the Art Garfunkel to Elmo’s Paul Simon is Grover. This purple workhorse has been the source of fun for decades yet remains decidedly second banana. DuMars thinks he knows what it is about Grover that makes his appeal so universal.
DuMars said, “He’s my favorite character out of all of the characters because he does represent the working class.”