Singing, dancing ‘Sesame Street’ takes the stage

Elmo will have audiences singing and dancing this weekend as an all-new production of “Sesame Street Live” arrives at Intrust Bank Arena.

“Can’t Stop Singing” brings to life famous “Sesame Street” characters, including Elmo and Cookie Monster, for an interactive performance that one cast member says offers a chance for families to create memories while introducing their children to the value of live performance in a fun, exuberant atmosphere.

The story anchoring the 90-minute production has Elmo finding Abby Cadabby’s magic wand and accidentally casting a spell that makes everyone incapable of speaking. Singing is the only way to communicate, which invites a non-stop singing and dancing extravaganza. Bert and Ernie must converse in song, Cookie Monster sings fast and slow, and Murray leads a music sing-a-long as Elmo realizes he’s a bit in over his head. Ultimately, he learns an important lesson about not taking things that aren’t yours and comes to understand the value of everyone singing together.

Cast member Jason Stump, who plays the bilingual Mexican fruit bat Rosita, said it’s those lessons and the aura of positivity surrounding the show that make it a great experience for families. He said the event also gives kids an outlet to express themselves and begin to find their own creative voices.

“This is a show with a really great message,” he said. “Positive and high energy don’t really do it justice when describing it. It’s a pretty large-scale production. It’s really, really happy, especially when everyone is singing together. We have one song called ‘Everybody’s Song.’ All the kids get to clap their hands and snap their fingers and tap their feet with us. Absolutely everyone is encouraged to sing along through the whole thing as well as dance along and play along.”

The fun isn’t limited just to the performance on stage. One hour before the show starts, the Play Zone area will be open to allow children to sing and dance with their favorite characters from the show. They can sit in Big Bird’s nest, clap their hands with Murray, high-five Ernie, sit at the steps of 123 Sesame Street, and twirl in Zoe’s dance studio. It’s free and open to all ticket holders.

“Sesame Street Live” has been around since 1980 and is the longest running live children’s show company. “Can’t Stop Singing” is the latest production and began touring in August. It’s mid-way through its year-long tour. Stump joined the cast last month, and he said he has enjoyed being part of a timeless tradition. He said that even though the show’s target age demographic is 2-6, people of all ages will enjoy it because of the quality music, witty dialogue, and fun characters.

“It’s something that transcends ages,” he said. “ ‘Sesame Street’ is something we all grew up with. We all have a connection to some of the characters. From an adult standpoint, the music in this show is great, with complex chords and a jazz feel to it at times. For kids, you get to see all of your favorite ‘Sesame Street’ friends having an absolute blast on stage.”

Stump, who said theatre has been part of his life since he was 8 years old, believes there’s value in taking kids to a live performance.

“By taking your child to this show, you are not only helping them meet all of their favorite ‘Sesame Street’ friends live and in person; you are giving them a chance to see a live production,” he said. “That gets them to maybe express themselves in a more open, public way. I just think it’s really beautiful to involve children in live art.”

Ultimately, Stump says it’s the jubilant atmosphere and the family-focused positivity associated with the “Sesame Street” brand that draws people to the shows.

“It’s rare that you get to sit down with your whole family for an hour and a half and just enjoy some good music, some positive energy, and learn a couple of really great lessons,” he said. “That’s one of the things Sesame Street can provide to families.”

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