Behind the Scenes with Sesame Street Live!

Elmo and his Sesame Street friends are coming back to Austin Thursday-Sunday, April 3-6 with an all-new show, Sesame Street Live “Make a New Friend.” Anxious for their arrival, we spoke with the performance director, Joy Carlson, on what it’s like to work for Sesame Street Live! Joy has worked with the company for about 10 years and has worked on some of our favorite shows that have been to the Erwin Center including “Elmo Makes Music” and “Elmo’s Coloring Book.” Sesame Street Live “Make a New Friend” has been on tour since August, traveling coast to coast and bringing smiles and laughter to families along the way. Joy says it best, “It is really great to travel with a show that makes so many people happy.” Read our interview with Joy Carlson below!

Tell me about your job. What are your main responsibilities/duties?

It’s a very fun position! I’m part dance captain and part stage manager. My job is to make sure the show looks clean and crisp throughout the season. For every performance, I sit front of house and call the stage cues . I also work alongside Elmo and Grover with publicity efforts. We do phone interviews, morning news shows, hospital visits, etc. Today we actually went to a science center which was really cool.

Elmo Makes Music - Photography by Gary Miller

“Elmo Makes Music” – Photography by Gary Miller

Tell me about the choreography. Do you teach the choreography to the cast?

I do not teach the choreography to the cast. Cheryl Baxter is the choreographer and I assist her in making sure her vision is being executed for every show. She teaches the cast everything, so that’s great. We just keep everything exactly how she envisioned the performance to look like.

How often does the cast rehearse? Do you rehearse between shows?

We rehearse in every city that we go to so we can get familiar with the stage and the set up. The cast stays in very good shape by taking dance classes and going to the gym. They are really great and know their material. We do not rehearse in between shows; the cast will usually relax and rest during this time. I’m usually busy doing paperwork or on my computer.

Elmo Makes Music - Photography by Gary Miller

“Elmo Makes Music” – Photography by Gary Miller

Tell me about at typical show day. What does it look like?

The busiest day is when we have a 10:30 a.m. show and do publicity in the afternoon (visits to hospitals, libraries or news stations) we come back in the evening and have another show that night. Sometimes we will have early morning news at 6 a.m. then morning show at 10:30 a.m. A typical show day is very busy.


What is your favorite part of your job?

There are so many! The best part is sitting out front during the show and calling the cues because you get to hear the reaction from the kids. There are also sly funny parts that maybe kids don’t get but parents really get a kick out of. It’s so fun to see them and their reactions.

What is your favorite part of the show?

It’s so exuberant and so outgoing! The whole time your are just amazed by it all. Some of my favorites include the parody of “Moves Like Jagger” and the parody of “Hot and Cold.”

Is there anything you would like to tell Austin fans about the show?

I would love to mention our Sunny Seats – it’s a really great package. You get a meet and greet with Elmo and it’s something really fun and memorable to do with the kids before the show.

Visit the Frank Erwin Center website to see who's coming, and subscribe to Be the First to Know to get a jump on upcoming pre-sales and ticket giveaways.

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