I had been looking for a way to participate in the celebration, and this was just perfect. I set aside two full evenings to attend four of the films, and here are some of the highlights of the event:
- First of all, I scored this awesome Alex Ross Super Grover litho (pictured above) along with the book It's Not Easy Being Green by anwering some Sesame Street trivia questions thrown out to film audiences by the event's co-programmer, Craig Shemin. Craig and his wife, Stephanie D'Abruzzo, opened each of the four films I attended by joking around with the audience and providing some nice inside scoops on the films. They were naturals for the job, as Craig is a Muppet historian and Vice President of the Jim Henson Legacy. Stephanie is a Sesame Street puppeteer, as well as a an Emmy-nominated Avenue Q performer.
- The World According to Sesame Street was an amazing documentary directed by Linda Goldstein Knowlton & Linda Hawkins. These two women traveled around the world to show how people bring Sesame into countries around the globe, including Bangladesh, Kosovo, and South Africa.. What I learned is that each country goes through a process of figuring out what content and characters will best work for their particular culture. One of my favorite scenes was of a master puppet-maker in Bangladesh staying up in until the wee hours of the morning to create a character in time to start shooting the show there.
- Next up, Jim Henson and Friends: Inside the Sesame Street Vault was Craig Shemin's compilation of Jim Henson and other star Muppeteers' (along with the Muppets themselves) appearances on talk and variety shows from the 1970s.
- Sunday night's first feature was Sesame Street at 40: Milestones from The Street. This gem showed lots of highlights from the show's history, including the very touching treatment of Mr. Hooper's death as well as the marriage of two of the show's human characters. Elmo was the ring bearer - of course!
- Lastly - and what a great way to end the weekend - was Sunday's Sing! Sesame Musical Moments - a compilation of Sesame's musical numbers. My favorite pieces were the ones from the disco era - "Me shaggy, me blue, me know how to groove.....................Cookie!" - and Pre School Musical, a spin off on High School Musical wherein the Troy-like Muppet espouses the supremacy of the block corner while the Gabrielle-like Muppet argues that the dress-up area actually rules. I had never seen that piece before and could not stop laughing!
- Other highlights included a special guest appearance by Bob McGrath, a beautiful singer and long-time Sesame cast member. I also had a nice chat with audience member Bonnie Erickson, who was part of the original design team for The Muppet Show and also Creative Director of the Product Division of Children's Television Workshop.