Monday, February 18, 2013

A Dad's View: Sesame Street Live

We bought tickets and took our kids to see Sesame Street Live for the second year in a row last weekend.  From a parent's perspective I have to give the producers of this show kudos for an excellent production.  Sesame Street Live entertains the kids with age appropriate educational content that is family friendly.  In family friendly, I also mean that it throws in some inside jokes and content aimed at keeping the dads and moms in the audience entertained too.  This year's golden nuggets for the adults in the audience were a Jimmy Buffet inspired song number led by Cookie Monster and and a performance by The Count inspired from a classic 80's pop song.

This year's show was titled "Elmo Makes Music" and the premise of the show was that a new music teacher has just moved to Sesame Street. Oh no! the moving van with all her musical instruments never arrived so she can't teach the residents of Sesame Street.  Bert & Ernie come to the rescue by leading an effort for everyone to collect everyday items that can be used as instruments to replace the lost ones.  The catch is though they want to do this in secret for the new music teacher, Jennie, so they have various exploits as they look for items while trying to surprise her.  While Elmo is the headliner for this year's show it's Bert & Ernie who the show really centers around.  In fact, Bert & Ernie really steal the show from Elmo with several Josh Groban like ballad performances.

A big difference from last year's show "Elmo's Super Heroes" (see my past blog post) is that while Elmo plays a big part in "Elmo Makes Music" the production does not revolve around him.  In "Elmo's Super Heroes" the focus really was around Elmo while in "Elmo Makes Music" their is a fuller cast of contributing characters with Bert, Ernie, Big Bird, and The Count getting a lot more stage time.  My wife and I differed on which show each of us liked best.  She liked last year's show because it was filled with more of a story line outside the typical Sesame Street story lines with lots of special effects.  In comparison, "Elmo Makes Music" was more toned down but had more of a feeling like you were seeing a traditional Sesame Street tv episode being filmed right in front of you.  I enjoyed this year's show more than last year's because I appreciated that the tradition Sesame Street characters I grew up with (Cookie Monster, The Count, Big Bird, Bert & Ernie) had a bigger role while last year the focus was mostly on the newer trendy Elmo, Telly and Zoe that my kids loved but as a parent I didn't relate to as much.

The Cookie Monster is one of my all time favorite Sesame Street characters and while he doesn't get a lot of stage time when he is in the story he makes his presence felt!  In "Elmo Makes Music" he leads the Sesame Street gang in a Jimmy Buffet inspired rumba song and dance about cookies that was a fresh blast of Caribbean fun on a cold February day in Detroit.  Interestingly despite the title, Elmo only really sings during a segment meant to be just like the tv show's "Elmo's World" sketches.  This segment really didn't seem to catch the attention of the  kids in the audience despite Elmo being such a highlight attraction, maybe it was too much like what they regularly see on the tv show.  All in all "Sesame Street: Elmo Makes Music" did a great job of  keeping the audience's attention, often by having everyone interact in the songs and skits which made for a great time for everyone.  If you have a child between ages of 2 and 5 I highly recommend you check out Sesame Street Live.

Parent-to-parent though, if you go watch out for the over-priced souvenirs.  They have these awesome looking glowing wands and swirly light toys for sale that I went to the souvenir stand to check out for my kids but than I saw the price tag.  At $15 each that would have been a $30 purchase to get one for each of my kids (you know have to get one for each to avoid World War III from breaking out) for something that would have probably ended up in a toy chest or junk drawer the day after the performance.  Sorry kids but NO.  The fortunate thing is they really are discreet with the souvenir stands and you can easily avoid them and keep your kids from begging you for them as long as the parents sitting next to you don't buy them for their children.  Beware though, the one thing you can't avoid and they are NOT discreet about selling are the notorious Elmo balloons.  When they break for intermission  they bring these helium filled wonders out into the theater for every kid to see and want.  As a parent all I can say is "Oh the horror!" when you see these balloons being sold for $12 and you have to admit they are pretty cool but again looking at the sticker shock $24 is a lot of money for a couple of balloons.  Here's a secret ... you can buy the same balloon at Party City so surprise your child with one later on when it really is a special surprise. So if you don't want to loose a paycheck on souvenirs be prepared for them and know how you are going to address the situation with your kids before you go.

Your kids are only little once and Sesame Street Live is a nice indulgence for parents to thrill their kids with and enjoy some quality family time together.  Unfortunately there really is a limited time frame in which this show will appeal to children with the show being most age appropriate for ages 2 to 4.  So if your kids are in that age range don't miss out on what is a really great experience and check out Sesame Street Live the next time it comes to town.

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