Elmo, Cookie Monster, Abby Cadabby, Grover, Rosita, Bert, Ernie, Oscar the Grouch, The Count, Gabrielle, and many more beloved Sesame Street characters are part of the new stage production —Sesame Street The Musical—written, directed, and produced by Jonathan Rockefeller, in collaboration with Sesame Workshop.
These beloved characters are iconic, and the show is humorous and perfect for young kids (2 to 4), older kids, and parents. The story is relatively simple and funny. Bert has stage fright. Ernie has decided to take a warm bath, and the cookie monster has already eaten the first two letters of his alphabet song. Everything is perfect and as it should be at “Sesame Street: The Musical,” a genuinely entertaining musical now running Off-Broadway at Theater Row.
Now, you might be scratching your head and thinking, how exactly can these characters, designed to educate billions of children worldwide, be shaped into a musical? The answer is easy and was in the mix at the very beginning, with the “Sesame Street” song catalog coming alive with some jewels being “C Is for Cookie” and “Rubber Duckie,” with all the songs designed to teach young kids. Other gems include The Count with “The Batty Bat.”
Stepping into the role of the critic is the one, the only, Oscar the Grouch, who writes for “The New Yuck Times” — and calls the show “rotten” and “stinky” and threatens patrons that they “better not enjoy [yourselves]” because he won’t have anything to write. Naturally, Oscar gets into the act by singing his signature song, “I Love Trash,” adding that extra wow factor to an already solid musical.
The director, Rockefeller’s production, steps fully into the wit and charm of what made the show so perfect in the first place. In many ways, it’s both modern and old-fashioned, a neat trick that the cleverest artist can only pull off. So thank you to the genius of Jim Henson’s creature shop. It’s important to remember that these characters have made kids laugh on television for over 50 years.
Lovely Gabrielle, who wears her Afro puffs with style, and Rosita, who speaks Spanish, are gentle reminders of the importance of inclusion and diversity. And although these skilled storytellers take great care to cater to the minds of children, they never forget the adult and reward them generously. Sesame Street: The Musical is playing through Nov. 27 at Theater Row, Manhattan.