Sesame Street’s Leslie Carrara-Rudolph Live Show & Archive Interview

09.16.2010

Image courtesy Leslie Carrara-Rudolph and The Center for Puppetry Arts

Sesame Street performer Leslie Carrara-Rudolph (Abby-Cadabby) is performing “Wake Up Your Weird With Lolly & Leslie” at The Center for Puppetry Arts in downtown Atlanta, GA from September 16-26, 2010.

Here’s the show description from puppet.org:

WAKE UP YOUR WEIRD WITH LOLLY & LESLIE
By Leslie Carrara-Rudolph, Los Angeles, CA
2010-11 Family Series

Performances Thursday – Sunday through September 26

From the Emmy nominated performer of Sesame Street’s Abby Cadabby!

Discover your own unique creative gifts with Sesame Street Puppeteer Leslie Carrara-Rudolph and her friend Lolly! Together with her other puppet friends, Leslie will help the young and young at heart “wake up their weird” with this interactive performance-style workshop using puppets, storytelling, live music, improvisations, art, and movement. Explore the power of the voice, the body, and the imagination as the three main resources for “spreading joy.”

Tickets are available via PUPPET.ORG.

The Center for Puppetry Arts hosted the following Twitter interview @CtrPuppetryArts with Leslie on September 15th between 2 and 3 pm (EST).

Fans were asked in advance to submit their questions via Twitter by tagging them with #LeslieChat.

Thanks to @CtrPuppetryArts for permission to host the archive of the interview here on Voice Actors in the News.

Moderator @CtrPuppetryArts and fan-submitted questions are in italics, with Leslie’s answers in bold.

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30 minutes until our Twitter Chat with Sesame Street performer, Leslie Carrara-Rudolph.

Hi Puppet Fans! Leslie will be joining us soon. Going to get started in just a few minutes!

For those you who might not know, Leslie is here in Atlanta to present her new puppet show, “Wake Up Your Weird!”

She is also the Emmy nominated performer of Sesame Street’s Abby Cadabby!!

Welcome, Leslie! Thank you so much for joining us today!

Before we get to questions– What else should our followers know about you?

They should know that I just ate a Varsity hamburger and slawdog and a homemade pumpkin chocolate cookie.

They should know that I’m from Northern California, and am mostly based in NY, but still have a place in Glendale (Southern CA).

My husband, Paul Rudolph, got a job on Sesame Street as the vocal director, so he lives in NY with me & our deaf & blind bishon.

Q#1 What is your routine to combat puppeteer shoulder?

A: Stretching, push-ups (to be physically even). My right arm is steel and left can turn to veal! And swimming!

Q#2 What was your career path before Sesame Street? Was performing on Sesame Street always a dream/goal of yours?

A: My dream was to be the ultimate entertainer for kids & to have my own kids show one day.

A: (con’t) I even designed my own major to do it!

A: I wanted to work with kids at risk. My goal was to be a special ed teacher and to perform!

Thanks, @katiecofield for that question!

Q#3 What kind candy does Lolly plan on sampling while in Atlanta? Did the Comedy Beaver join her on this trip?

A: Every kind of candy! She’s upset we skipped Cracker Barrel. Check out her [Facebook] fan page– Lolly Lardpop.

A: Yes to the Comedy Beaver!

Q#4: Leslie, what is your favorite part of your job?

A: My point of view. I have the best seat in the house when it comes to watching the children’s faces and how they react!

Q#5 As a performer for kids’ shows as well as grown-up fare, how do you define “adult entertainment? Can’t “adult” be clean too?

A: My puppets don’t swear or have to be sexual to be funny.

A: My adult entertainment is in respect to politics or social issues that aren’t aimed at children.

A: When I was in Stuffed and UnStrung, the Henson improv group, I often struggled with some of the content. The audience improv requests were too blue at times for my taste.

Thanks to @larabron, @ToasterBoy, @cpillsbury, @smittygirl for your questions! Keep ’em coming!

*Pause* Leslie just had to take a call from Elmo.

RT @ToasterBoy: Can you explain the significance of Karen (Red Fraggle) Prell’s shoes as they relate to your career?

A: Her boots were given to me on the very first day of shooting on the Muppet show, so I could be tall enough next to Frank Oz.

RT @lekogirl: @CtrPuppetryArts Do you construct any other puppets on the side for personal projects?

A: All of them at first! Then when I can afford it I have a real builder do it.

A: Except for Lolly– she’s complaining that she isn’t getting any upgrades

RT @mekidd5: @CtrPuppetryArts Leslie, what is your favorite part of what must be a VERY interesting workday?!

A: Too many favorites! At Sesame Street, the whole family, guests, and the children from Make A Wish.

Q: Can you tell us more about “Wake Up Your Weird”?

A: Wake Up Your Weird is an interactive performance style / workshop that focuses on the voice, the body, and the imagination!

Wow! So many questions! We have time for about 2 more!

RT @smittygirl: @CtrPuppetryArts Any particular performers who inspired you to be a puppeteer?

A: The Muppets, of course! And, Wayland Flowers was brilliant. If Madame and Lambchop had a baby, it would be Lolly!

@lekogirl Are you a builder or a performer?

RT @lekogirl: @CtrPuppetryArts Any words of wisdom for puppetry students?

A: Whatever aspect of puppetry you are doing, always make it about your heart or passion.

If you just say that it’s going to be part of your life, the rest will follow!

Well, that concludes our Twitter interview! Thank you, Leslie, for taking time out of your busy schedule to be with us today!

A big thanks to everyone who participated and listened in!

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As a bonus, here are a series of videos recorded in Atlanta featuring the adventures of Lolly Lardpop (as performed by Leslie) courtesy of her official Facebook fan page:

UPDATE: 9.24.2010 — The Marquee Episode Continues…

AccessAtlanta also has a review of Leslie’s live show.

Visit Leslie’s official site at LeslieCarrara-Rudolph.com and be sure to bookmark PUPPET.ORG to keep up with The Center for Puppetry Arts’ recent and upcoming shows, screenings, museum exhibits and other events. They currently have three (THREE!) long-term museum displays related to the work of Jim Henson which are a heartily recommended must-see for all Muppets fans.


Original Kermit Muppet Donated to Smithsonian

08.26.2010

For Immediate Release

Kermit the Frog Comes Home to Washington

Sam and Friends Characters Donated to the National Museum of American History

August 25, 2010

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History accepted 10 characters from Sam and Friends from Jane Henson, on behalf of the Jim Henson family, in a special donation ceremony.

Sam and Friends debuted on local Washington, D.C., station WRC-TV in 1955 launching what would become a global phenomenon—the Muppets. The show featured a host of unique characters, including the original Kermit the Frog, who was more of a lizard-like creature, constructed with ping pong ball eyes and green felt from a coat discarded by Jim Henson’s mother. This version of Kermit does not have his signature collar, and his feet are rounded.

“Jim Henson embodied the innovation and ingenuity that is inherent in American culture,” said Brent D. Glass, director of the museum. “Beyond the entertainment value Henson’s creations provided, his work helped educate and inform his audiences, an influence that continues today.”

'Sam and Friends' Smithsonian archive collection (image courtesy newsdesk.si.edu)

Joining Kermit on display at the museum this fall are other characters from Sam and Friends, including Pierre the French Rat, Henson’s oldest surviving puppet, first drawn in 1954 as part of a comic strip for his high school yearbook; Yorick, a purple skull who was a precursor to hungry monsters like Cookie Monster, made of papier-mâché; Mushmellon, whose wide face and grouchy eyes bear a distinct resemblance to Oscar the Grouch; and Sam, the main character who never spoke but lip-synced to popular music and comedy records of the time.

Henson saw enormous potential for puppets on TV and he came up with the word Muppet in the mid-1950s. Seemingly a combination of puppet and marionette, Henson insisted that he chose the term simply because he liked the way it sounded. Central to the design of a Muppet is the construction of the face—creating a pattern with the eyes, nose and mouth called “the magic triangle”—which establishes a point of focus that helps to bring the puppet to life in the eye of a video camera and to the viewers watching at home.

“It is wonderful that Sam and Friends should find themselves back here in Washington, D.C., where they first appeared,” said Jane Henson, Henson’s wife. “And now they get to greet old friends and meet new ones at the newly renovated and exciting National Museum of American History.”

[Associated Press video]

From the early beginnings of Sam and Friends—of which only a few episodes survive—the Muppets went on to evolve and achieve worldwide popularity. The Muppet Show was introduced in 1976 and reached 235 million viewers in more than 100 countries. The series won three Emmys during its five-year run as well as spawning feature-films like The Muppet Movie, The Great Muppet Caper and The Muppets take Manhattan. Muppets is a registered trademark of The Muppets Studio LLC Ltd.

The Kermit the Frog that is already in the museum’s collection was first loaned in 1979, in celebration of Sesame Street’s 10th anniversary. In 1994, Jim Henson Productions designated Kermit as a gift, making him a permanent fixture in the museum’s performance collections.

The National Museum of American History collects, preserves and displays American heritage in the areas of social, political, cultural, scientific and military history. To learn more about the museum, check http://americanhistory.si.edu. For Smithsonian information, the public may call (202) 633-1000, (202) 633-5285 (TTY).

For more information about the life and work of Jim Henson, visit The Jim Henson Legacy website: www.jimhensonlegacy.org

CNN.com also has a feature article (with photo) from this event.


Kevin Clash on Jim Henson

08.28.2009

Variety has a feature on Sesame Street, which will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Daytime Emmys on August 30th. Here’s an excerpt:

[The] biggest stars on “Sesame Street” are the Muppets themselves (Henson’s trademark puppet creations) — multicolored creatures of felt and fur that collectively promote the show’s overarching message of racial and ethnic diversity.

“It’s all from Jim Henson‘s point of view,” says Kevin Clash, the puppeteer behind Elmo, likely the most famous redhead — save for Lucille Ball — in the history of American television. “He wanted a rainbow of characters to represent everyone.”

Adds [Producer Carol-Lynn] Parente, “Puppets are really great ambassadors. They open doors that are nearly impossible for other groups to open up.”

“The puppets are truly remarkable creatures,” says Sonia Manzano, who joined the cast in 1970. “Their characters are so fully formed it doesn’t take you long to get involved in their world.”


Muppets/Jim Henson News Round-Up

04.06.2009

– I’ve done a pretty extensive update of my previous report on Jim Henson Exhibits in 2009. Several new links, events, and guest info has been added.

– The 3.29.2009 release of Follow That Bird: The 25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition includes a “New Interview with Carroll Spinney,” voice and puppeteer of Big Bird and Oscar The Grouch. Chud.com’s review of the DVD says: “It’s fun to see the elderly Caroll Spinney reflect on his work at Children’s Television Workshop. He remembers about meeting Henson and developing the Grouch and Big Bird. It’s great work all around and it stands up over the years.”

Fan report and photos from meeting Muppeteer Dave Goelz (via MuppetCentral.com).

LooseToon Blog by Steve Vitale reports on an Atlanta 2008 event featuring Dave Goelz and Steve Whitmire. Includes photos and video. The same blogger also reports on an earlier 2008 event featuring Jane Henson.

– Sesame Street’s Elmo (performed by Kevin Clash) will appear on NBC’s Late Night with Jimmy Fallon on Wednesday, April 15th. See The Muppet Newsflash for more details.

Additionally, Elmo and Abby Cadabby will appear Tuesday, April 6th on The Bonnie Hunt Show, which Muppet Newsflash also has details on, along with Elmo’s April 2nd appearance on NBC’s Today.

– The Jim Henson Company’s adult improv puppetry extravaganza Puppet Up! Uncensored has two live performance dates April 18th and May 22nd in Hollywood, CA. The Puppet Up! troupe includes several talents with voice-over credits (click here to see a previous report on the cast). Visit PuppetUp.com for ticket info.

Additionally, The Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta, GA is hosting a special screening of Puppet Up! Uncensored: Live in Melbourne, Australia on April 25th. Visit Puppet.org for more details.

And even though it’s not exactly on-topic with the voice actor theme of this blog, it *is* Muppets-related and it’s just so bizarre I have to share it… you must see these photos of designer Jean-Charles de Castelbajac’s Muppets-inspired clothing-type things at Paris Fashion Week via DailyMail.co.uk, InventorSpot.com, and TrendHunter.com.


Update: Jim Henson Exhibits in 2009

03.21.2009

ATLANTA, GA: The Center for Puppetry Arts is currently hosting three Jim Henson exhibits “on long term display”: Jim Henson: A Man and His Frog, Jim Henson: Wonders from His Workshop, and Jim Henson: Puppeteer.

The Center also offers a “special, in-depth, guided tour” every Saturday and Sunday: The Life and Legacy of Jim Henson.

And The Center’s film series includes special screenings of Puppet Up! Uncensored: Live in Melbourne, Australia (4.25.2009), Labyrinth (6.06.2009, hosted by Heather Henson), Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas (12.05.2009), The Dark Crystal (1.16.2010), Follow That Bird (2.13.2010), and The Jim Henson Hour Presents “Dog City” (3.06.2010).

The Center will be announcing future Muppets/Henson-related guests as part of the “Jim Henson Guest Speaker Series.”

Visit Puppet.org for more details.

ORLANDO, FL: The Orange County Regional History Center is hosting the touring exhibit, Jim Henson’s Fantastic World through May 3rd, 2009. Visit TheHistoryCenter.org for more details, including a downloadable podcast about the exhibit. You can also see previews and reports on the exhibit on TheLedger.com, LaughingPlace.com, YouTube.com (via Orlando Attractions Magaine), Flickr.com, NPR.com, MuppetCentral.com, and Jim Hill Media. And furthermore, they are also hosting the related event Muppets, Music, and Magic: The Jim Henson Legacy through April 5th, 2009 featuring TV/movie screenings, archival media, and guest speakers such as Cheryl Henson. Their March 29th event will include a screening of Muppets From Space with special guest Muppeteer John Kennedy, who has performed Dr. Teeth, Animal, and other Muppet characters.

UPDATE 3.21.2009: The Orlando Sentinel reports that Steve Whitmire, the current puppeteer and voice of Kermit the Frog (as well as other Muppet characters), will introduce screenings April 4-5 at the Orange County Regional History Center:

On April 4, he’ll appear at the 3 p.m. session called “A Better World: Living in Harmony” and the 8 p.m. screening of Labyrinth. On April 5, Whitmire will be at the 3:30 p.m. session titled “The Art of Puppetry and Storytelling” and the 8 p.m. screening of The Dark Crystal.

Jim Henson’s daughter, Heather Henson, has also been announced as a guest.

Update 4.06.2009: Muppet Central forum member “jeremyactor” has posted a report on Steve Whitmire’s appearance at the Orlando event. Jeremy says he will be uploading some photos soon as well.

Additional photo, video, and audio previews of the event have also been added above.

SEATTLE, WA: The Experience Music Project / Science Fiction Museum will host Jim Henson’s Fantastic World from May 23rd – August 9th, 2009. Visit EMPSFM.org for more information.

Jim Henson’s Fantastic World is sponsored by The Smithsonian Institute, and will continue its tour through 2011. The Smithsonian’s official site for the exhibit [link: SITES.SI.edu] offers enough content to keep fans entertained for hours, and you can view the upcoming tour schedule there as well. They also have a Facebook page with related events calendar and photo gallery.


Jim Henson Exhibits in 2009

03.12.2009

All content for this post has been moved to the 3.21.2009 update.