My son, J, almost missed Sesame Street Live's "Elmo's Coloring Book" because of a nasty cold. For the last year-and-a-half, he has intensely followed Elmo's catalog of work, including daily installments of "Sesame Street," DVDs of "Elmo's World," and intensive cuddle sessions with his Tickle-Me Elmo. Missing Elmo was not an option.
"Elmo's Coloring Book" is just one of three Sesame Street Live's current productions. For this tour, the furry red monster leads a cast of Sesame Street residents into their favorite drawings with help from coloring-book creator Professor Art and his assistants, the Palettes.
After 26 years of touring and several lineup changes, Sesame Street Live still pulls off a stunning performance, like a more gracefully aging Rolling Stones. Newbies like Zoe, Baby Bear, and bilingual Rosita mix well on stage with the old-school crew of Bert, Ernie, Cookie Monster and Oscar the Grouch. And even though Count von Count is 1,832,647-years-old, he doesn't look a day older than when he first appeared on "Sesame Street." Call it a perk of being undead.
Many of the short songs were new material, such as Telly Monster, Zoe and the Count's "The King and Queen of the Nile" number. But the troop also dove into its substantial back catalog. Oscar the Grouch freshened up his classic, "I Love Trash" with a Stomp-like interlude featuring trash can lids clanking and brooms sweeping.
The incomparable Cookie Monster performed a sassy, solo rendition of "Fuzzy and Blue." The original featured Grover and Harry Monster, but Grover is headlining in another Sesame Street Live tour, "Super Grover! Ready For Action."
The monster with the most audience control, however, was undoubtedly Elmo. Toddlers follow him like women follow Oprah. While some kids bounced in the aisles screaming Elmo's name, J simply stared at Elmo with wide eyes, as if a blink would make the monster disappear. But the excitement was more than he could bare: By the time the confetti drizzled over the crowd for the finale, J had passed out clutching a balloon shaped like Elmo's head.