This year's version of Sesame Street on stage is as satisfying a production as they come for preschoolers. The plot is this: TV game show host Guy Smiley (one of the top Muppets in my book) has one hour in which to produce a movie. If he can do it, he wins the studio. If not, Freddie Fantastic (a cool new Muppet with wraparound sunglasses, gold chains and a green nose) gets the studio.
Smiley makes it as the whole Sesame Street crew sings and dances its way through 18 fast-paced numbers.I don't remember as many audience participation skits in previous years as there were this year. And they were certainly a lot of fun. At one point Ernie had the children stand and pretend to go on a lion hunt with him while Bert and the parents in the audience got to take a nap. In the same skit the children got to help identify sounds.
Nor do I remember the acrobatics. Grover was a groove as he flipped and jived. The kids really went for the ghosts on roller skates, too, in the outer space number.
Parents seemed to enjoy the show as much as the children did. (Beyond the fact that most people can't help being pleased when watching their offspring get their money's worth from a show that is fairly expensive.) My favorite number was a simple ditty, "My Furry Little Shadow."
The children in the audience seemed to enjoy "Let a Smile Be Your Umbrella" best, because it had some glow in the dark special effects. (A child near me was especially entranced by the fact that the actors could twirl their umbrellas, asking several times, "Mommy, how do they do that?")
The play was written by David Connell, executive producer of the "Sesame Street" TV series, and Jim Thurman. At an hour and 45 minutes (including intermission) it may be a bit long for a 2-year-old, but those who can sit through an hour of Sesame Street will make it through the live performance. And if you want to introduce a 3- or 4-year-old to live theater you can't get much more lively than the annual "Sesame Street Live."