Saturday, June 13, 2009
Yesterday was the perfect start to our summer. We went to two -- count'em, two! -- pool parties, and in the evening we watched Sesame Street Live! Elmo's Green Thumb. The kids have been looking forward to seeing Elmo and all their Sesame Street pals dancing and singing. No doubt they were remembering the great time they had at last spring's Thomas the Tank show, and were expecting more of the same. It's difficult to say which they enjoyed more, because they are very different shows, and each one is fabulous entertainment for the preschool set.
First, let's get the irritating stuff out of the way. Unfortunately the orchestra section of the Civic Center does not slope downwards towards the stage, so it's difficult for kids to see above the grownups' heads -- and above the heads of the kids who are standing in their parents' laps. And above the huge Elmo balloons that were bobbing up and down. Fortunately the event staff asked people to rein in their balloons, but I wish people would remember this isn't their own private performance. Because it's kind of stressful for neurotic parents like myself to have to ask the people in front of us not to hoist their kids up high and block everyone else's view. That's probably why they have to sell lots of cotton candy and nachos during the perfomance, to fill people's stomachs and get them to chill out.
Now the good stuff: There is no way anyone under 5 could NOT enjoy the show. Maybe even under 10 (The Pea certainly enjoyed it). The story was really cute: while Elmo and his friends look for a place to plant his sunflower Sunny, they get shrunk to bug size, meet all the little critters in Big Bird's garden, and learn a thing or two about playing a part in the ecosystem, facing your fears, and patience. It was a pretty simple production -- they had minimal scenery and props, and the only thing that resembled a special effect was the circular electronic screen above the lefthand side of the stage -- but there was no shortage of The Main Attraction, namely Sesame characters. The kids in the audience would scream in delight every time a new friend came on stage, and they were happy just to see everyone singing and dancing.
What makes it bearable for the grownups in the audience (aside from the joy we get watching our kids so enthralled, of course) is watching these huge, furry, bulky muppets get down and jiggy widdit. I wasn't expecting to see them break out into chacha's and high kicks and pirouettes, but that's just what they did. Not quite So You Think You can Dance material, but then they're doing it in a huge, bulky muppet suit, so props to them. The mood was infectuous, and kids were bouncing up and down in their seats and dancing in the aisles (Jammy included).
The music was certainly a big crowd-pleaser. I got to hear my favorite Sesame Street song, "Ladybug picnic", and my second-favorite song, "Inch by Inch" (I always tear up thinking of John Denver singing it to Kermit the Frog on the Muppet Show). Other songs are actually a clever remix of popular songs like Patti Labelle's New Attitude, so even adults who aren't overgrown kids like me will appreciate the music. As for the kids, they like it all!
If you're in the Bay Area, your kids can still get their Elmo fix -- Elmo's Green Thumb will be at the San Jose Civic Auditorium today and tomorrow, and at Oakland's ORACLE arena next weekend. And if you don't live around these parts, don't worry -- Sesame Street Live! will be touring the US all the way until October this year! There are 4 shows playing in over 25 cities, so chances are there will be a show near you.