1 The Muppet Mindset: REVIEW: Sesame Street Live - Can't Stop Singing

May 18, 2014

REVIEW: Sesame Street Live - Can't Stop Singing

Marc Hansen - Greetings, Muppet Mindsetters! This past weekend, my family and I attended our second Sesame Street Live in as many years. Last year, we took our son Sam to "Elmo Makes Music." He loved it, we did not. Personally, I felt "Elmo Makes Music" had only the characters and some of the songs of Sesame Street Televised, with none of the humor and heart the show has. It did have way more high-fives, though. And cartwheels. Because a full-body Ernie can cartwheel, so he should do it as often as possible.

When we bought tickets for this year’s Sesame Street Live, "Can't Stop Singing," we figured it would be a bland, very loud hour of entertainment for us that Sam would love. And he did love it. To our surprise, though, we loved it as well. It was still Sesame Street Live, which is pitched bigger than the show, and to a younger audience. But there were more clever jokes this time around, the story was more engaging and the music was better. It’s nowhere near as good as an average episode of Sesame Street, but as a live experience with a two-year old, it almost exceeded our expectations.

The plot, as with many great plots, was borrowed loosely from the musical episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The cast enters singing a song and dancing and having a ball. Elmo wants to keep singing and dancing, but everyone is rushing off to do the pressing things Sesame Street Muppets do with their lives. Elmo wanders off and runs into Hoots the Owl(!) and also finds Abby’s wand. Hoots warns him not to use the wand, since magic is very powerful and who knows what darkness one can conjure if one isn’t careful. Okay, he doesn’t really say that, but he warns Elmo not to use the wand.

So, of course, Elmo uses the wand and casts a spell that makes everyone sing and dance uncontrollably. He visits Grover waiting tables (not, sadly, to Mr. Johnson) and by chanting, “Magic, magic, magic!” causes Grover and Baby Bear to sing an ode to porridge. Ernie (in a more obscure reference to the Buffy musical) has a stain on shirt, and in a parody of Shout, asks Bert the musical question, “Will you launder my shirt?” Eventually, Abby realizes her wand is missing, and coincidentally notices the Sesame gang are all singing much more than normal. Then they have a 15-minute intermission to sell $10 balloons.

As the curtain rises on Act 2, Abby magically breaks the fourth wall to ask the audience who has her wand. So she goes on a quest to find Elmo and reverse his spell. Meanwhile, the whole Sesame gang are singing "Rhythm is Gonna Get You," wondering why they can’t stop singing. But Elmo doesn’t know how to reverse the spell and wanders off while the rest of the cast rage against the Miami Sound Machine.

At this point, Elmo runs into Hoots the Owl again. Hoots realizes that, instead of giving Abby back her wand or at least returning it to Ollivander’s for store credit, Elmo’s conjured up the dark forces of music. It was at this point, almost an hour and a half in, that Sam began saying bye-bye to Elmo and Abby, and subject to the whims of a two-year old, we left. So, we didn’t see the end of the show, but I imagine Abby gets her wand back and reverses the spell. Then the Sesame gang, tired of singing, say good night and there’s no big closing number. Just the Sesame Street characters standing on stage, fatigued and waving at the audience like the end of Saturday Night Live. I’m almost positive that’s how it ends.

In summation, while I found the show to be fun, and Sam was excited to see most of the Sesame Street gang singing and dancing. My only complaints would be that it went on too long and not all the characters were given much to do. Elmo and Abby were obviously given the biggest emphasis, and it was great that Hoots showed up, but others were given the short shrift. Bert and Ernie and Grover had big singular moments, but melted into the background in all the other scenes. Prairie Dawn showed up to dance, but had nothing to say. And once again, Big Bird wore a tie. Why so formal, Bird? At any rate, if you’ve got kids with a slightly longer than average attention span, you can all enjoy Sesame Street Live: Can’t Stop Singing. One wonders which Buffy episode the next live show will draw from?

The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, muppetmindset@gmail.com

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