Make a New Friend: Interview with Ryan Benetz of Sesame Street Live

WASHINGTON, December 6, 2013 – Through Big Bird’s eyes, Ryan Benetz has a unique view on the world.  

“With the company I have traveled through Spain (Barrio Sésamo), Portugal (Rua Sésamo), Peru, Mexico (Plaza Sésamo) and the Canary Islands, which is one place I never thought I would go,” says the 29-year old Mr. Benetz as he prepares to visit The Patriot Center in Fairfax with the Sesame Street Live “Make A New Friend” production on December 14.

“Make A New Friend” is one of three Sesame Street Live shows touring during 2013-14, joining “Can’t Stop Singing” and “Elmo Makes Music” and Sesame Street Live have visited over 30 countries, playing to more than 50 million children and parents.

Sesame Street Live shows are billed as “Broadway Style” and include multi-million dollar productions complete with actors, choreographers and designers as well as stage design, lighting and costumes worthy of the Great White Way.  This is the company’s 34th year touring season.

This tour’s show features Chanki, a featured character on the Indian version of Sesame Street called Galli Galli Sim Sim.  Chanki is visiting her friend Grover who is busy planning a very busy schedule for the two friends.

“In the show we are showing that we can all get along as Chanki makes new friends on the street,” Benetz says.  “We share cookies in her language and in ours, learning that while we are very different, we are very much the same. So one message of the show is that we are very much the same.”

Adding a bit of hilarity to the show is Grover, who in much the way that he is, is creating very busy itineraries for the friends. Wanting to do hundreds of things every day with his friend, Grover creates impossible days. 

“One lesson we share is that you don’t always have to be doing, sometimes sitting and enjoying a friend is doing enough,” Benetz says.

Ryan Benetz / Sesame Street Live

On stage, Benetz brings two characters alive, Big Bird and Telly, which are two very different Sesame Street residents. 

Big Bird is the quiet philosopher that we all know and love, and whose age pegs at an inquisitive six-and-a-half.  Telly, on the other hand shares personality tendencies that might be best described as hyperactive.

At 8’ 2” in height, Big Bird – who is self-described as a Lark, a Canary, and a Golden Condor, and in the 1998 Book Sesame Street Unpaved as Bigus Canarius  – is the tallest Muppet. 
Telly, while being a bit larger of body, comes in a bit shorter.

As an actor, Benetz brings his character to life using gestures, as the sound track is pre-recorded using the voice of the original Big Bird, Carol Spinney. 

“Becoming Big Bird means slowing down my movements, bending into the scene, turning my head, using my right wing to point, all mannerisms from how Carol Spinney has portrayed Big Bird over the years, while Telly, as a character he is much more panicked, worried about things and life, so for Telly, my movements become faster, more spastic.”

The Sesame Street television show is seen in 15 countries. In addition to the ones mentioned above there is also Kuwait (Iftah Ya Simsim), Israel (Rechov Sumsum), Germany (Sesamstrasse), Turkey (Susam Sokagi), Poland (Ulica Sezamkowa), Malaysia (Taman Sesame), Indonesia (Boneka Sesame), Iceland (Sesam Opnist Pû). The Czech Republic (Sezamé Otevri Se), South Africa (TakalaniSesame), Japan (Hikayat Simsim) and Mexico (Plaza Sésamo) where Big Bird is a seven-foot tall parrot called Ableardo Montoya. 

In Norway, Cookie Monster in known as Kakemonsteret while Turkey calls him Kurabit Canavari, however for children who love Sesame Street, Cookie Monster is Cookie Monster, regardless of his name.



 


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Jacquie Kubin

Jacquie Kubin is an award winning journalist that began writing in 1993 following a successful career in marketing and advertising in Chicago.  She started Communities Digital News in 2009 as a way to adapt to the changing online journalism marketing place.  Jacquie is President and Managing Editor of Communities Digital News, LLC and a frequent contributor to The Washington Times Communities as well as a member of the National Association of Professional Woman, New American Foundation and the Society of Professional Journalist.  Email Jacquie here

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