Sesame Street Live (partially found live stage shows; 1980-2003)

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Program book art from 1985.

Status: Partially Found

Sesame Street Live is a franchise of touring live stage musical shows based on the titular long-running PBS (and HBO) educational television series Sesame Street, featuring life-sized costumes of the Sesame Street Muppet characters. Much rather like its TV compartment which had been on the air for over 52 years as of 2021, Sesame Street Live is also a long-running show, touring in most markets around the world (primarily being in the United States, though) for over 40 years, originally premiering in September 1980 and still touring as of 2021.[1] The shows were produced by Minneapolis-based VEE Corporation (which was later renamed VStar Entertainment Group in 2015[2]) until October 2017, after Palmetto-based Feld Entertainment (known for producing Disney on Ice shows) took over the Sesame Street license, which was originally given to VEE by Sesame Workshop, the makers of the TV series who were on board with the stage show idea.


Sesame Street Live debuted on September 17, 1980 at the now-defunct Metropolitan Sports Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with the very first show "A Sesame Street Mystery: The Case of the Missing Rara Avis" for a five day run through the 21st. Due to marketing confusion, the show got off to a bad start with low ticket sales in the other cities it performed in, however it proved to be a success when it played at Madison Square Garden that Christmas 1980. Since then, the franchise has staged more than 30 shows spanning four decades, with new ones typically coming out on a sporadic schedule.

Unfortunately, a lot of material from the old classic stage shows can be considered lost media, as information on them are very obscure to look up. Full-length video recordings of shows, whether small clips or an entire 90-minute performance, are also near impossible to find. This can greatly be applied to the shows that were produced from 1980 to 2003, particularly due to the fact that recording video back then wasn't as easy as it is now. By the 2005 show (Super Grover! Ready for Action), YouTube and various other video-sharing sites had already launched, and minuscule phones with portable video cameras had become mainstream as opposed to bulky camcorders used in past years. Ton of clips of the shows toured after 2005 can easily be found on the internet, but while they aren't exactly in their full format, it can still be a stretch to consider them lost or even "partially found". Meanwhile, there is little to no resurfaced footage of the shows before those years, creating near 25 years worth of lost media. Apparently, it had been said that every show ever was recorded and stored in VEE Corp's warehouse archives, however, that may have been tarnished due to the fact VEE no longer owns the franchise. It could be likely that Sesame Workshop could own copies of the shows in their archives.

Aside from the actual main shows, another thing lost are the songs featured in the shows. While most of the Sesame Street Live shows used songs from the TV series, such as hits like "C is for Cookie" and "Rubber Duckie", they were often remixed or sung differently. In a mix with those, the shows also had a list of original songs that were written for the productions only. These are also rare to find, because Sesame Street Live shows never released their soundtracks until the show "Elmo's Coloring Book" in 1997. Three shows, "When I Grow Up", "Let's Be Friends", and "1-2-3 Imagine!" which all began their tours before 1997, got their soundtracks released in later years when the shows began touring again years later after they initially stopped.


Name Toured from Summary Leads
A Sesame Street Mystery: The Case of the Missing Rara Avis 1980-1983 Big Bird decides to run away from Sesame Street after Oscar the Grouch tells him that everyone forgot about his birthday, but in reality, his friends are planning a surprise party for him. Big Bird gets taken by P.T. Barnswallow, a showman with a bird performing troupe, who thinks that he'll fit perfectly with his team. Big Bird's friends, with a group of clumsy policemen, set out to find Big Bird. Partially Found - A vintage interview video of the actor playing Big Bird features footage, albeit silent.[3] Barring that, only a few black and white photos can be found.
Big Bird's Super Spectacular Totally Amateur Show 1981-1983 Big Bird gets an idea to put on a "super spectacular totally amateur show" in the park, with his friends such as Gladys the Cow, Frazzle Monster, Herry Monster, Prairie Dawn, Simon Soundman, and more. They put on many acts, ranging from a duet with Prairie and Cookie Monster, to Marshal Grover teaching his horse Fred dog tricks, to Gladys telling "moo" jokes, plus others. Lost - No footage of this show has surfaced, only a few black and white photos plus a rare color cast photo.[4]
Sesame Jamboree 1982-1984 Not having a known consistent plot, the show is themed with a western cowboy setting with fitting western acts. One act features Cookie Monster lassoing his favorite food while on roller skates, and another act features Bert pretending to be a rhinestone cowboy. Among these characters, there is The Blue Fur Mountain Band, a group of six country music monsters. Partially Found - A commercial for the show has surfaced, although it actually has no footage of the specific show.[5]. A rare video however, gives us a look of the stage set up.[6]
Around the World 1983-1985 Cookie Monster goes on Guy Smiley's game show and after defining what a pronoun is, he gets the prize between a world tour or a cookie. Obviously going for a cookie, his pals get him to choose the world tour instead. The characters go around the world to China, Mexico, Switzerland, and some other places, and Cookie Monster plans on eating every cookie from each country. Lost - No video footage of this show has surfaced, and even searching up images yields almost no results, barring this one coming from an unknown source.[7]
Missing Bird Mystery 1984-1991 This show is essentially A Sesame Street Mystery: The Case of the Missing Rara Avis under a new name, featuring the same premise. However, this show features some alterations, such as Prairie Dawn being included in the cast. Partially Found - There are about two commercials showing off show footage online[8]
Save Our Street 1985-1987 A dastardly villain named Mr. Meanie threatens to destroy Sesame Street and build a parking lot over it, which the characters seem to be unaware of as they spend the day at the fair. Oscar the Grouch is roped into Mr. Meanie's scheme, and when the characters find out what is going on, they decide to vote to keep the street. Partially Found - There are a good amount of commercials for this show that has footage.[9]
Big Bird Goes Hollywood 1986-1988 Guy Smiley wins a movie studio and must make a full length feature film in a single hour. The Sesame Street friends come to his help and get apart of it, and Big Bird is made the director, a job he seemingly finds easy as he just sits and tells people what to do. Two antagonists, Izzie Great and Wuzzy Wonderful, try to thwart their plans so they can get their studio back, which they have lost to Smiley. Partially Found - Nine minutes of the opening of the show has been uploaded,[10] including the show-exclusive song "So Nice to Be Here with You", and an extended rendition of "Wonderful Me" (which originate from the TV series).
Big Bird and the ABCs 1987-1993 A mysterious alien named Tee-Hee crashes down on Sesame Street while off on an errand. She is from the planet Crayon, where there is apparently no alphabet at all. The gang decide to teach her the alphabet, and also repair her ship to go back to her home planet. Partially Found - Photos online seem to be scarce, but there is a commercial that has footage.[11]
Big Bird's Sesame Street Story 1987-1989 A fictional story on how the Sesame Street TV show began, the idea of an educational television show that teaches the viewers letters and numbers while they watch full of cartoons and skits is spawned after Elmo would rather watch television instead of learn the alphabet. The gang tries pitching their show, but they have to get it past a difficult television executive named Tedious J. Molehill, who refuses to give it the green light because he thinks education and television don't mix. Partially Found - Footage of the show has been surfaced,[12] but the length of the clips themselves are very short, and half of the block of this segment in the video is just intermission.
Silly Dancing 1989-1991 A dancing sensation starts on Sesame Street, giving Big Bird the idea to put on a dancing contest show. However, he also has the idea to put on a silly show, and now he can't decide what to put on. Nevertheless, Oscar the Grouch refuses to participate in it, but his girl partner Grundgetta wants him to. Partially Found - Five minutes of show footage has been surfaced[13], although it is cut around. A beginning of the finale can be seen, with the show exclusive song "Silly Goodbye". There is a song called "Silly Hello" that opened the show as well, in the same melody but at a lower note.[14]
Let's Play School 1990-1998 Professor Grover teaches some of the characters on the first day of school. At school, they have the typical things: reading class, music class, math class, recess, and even a visit from Cookie Monster, a firefighter. Though, at the end of the day, the class must share something very special to them for show and tell, but Big Bird can't decide what to bring. Partially Found - Only one commercial that features show footage has surfaced.[15]
Sleeping Birdie 1990-1994 A somewhat of a sequel to Big Bird and the ABCs, Tee-Hee returns to Sesame Street to see her new friend Big Bird again. The queen of Planet Crayon, The Yellow Queen, also comes along with her. There, she sees Big Bird and is immediately jealous at how yellow he is. The Yellow Queen thinks she can't be beat at yellowness, so she puts a spell on Big Bird making him sleep, and then creates a potion that will put purple polka dots on the yellowy bird. His friends have to wake him up before it is too late. Partially Found - A commercial featuring some footage is online[16], and there are a few black and white photos.
Where's the Birdie? 1992-1994 Another revival of Missing Bird Mystery with largely the same plot line, but one vastly known difference is that the show now features Elmo. Lost - No footage of this show has surfaced, and only one (or two) photos can be found.
When I Grow Up 1993-2001 Prairie Dawn directs a pageant on what the Sesame Street characters want to be when they grow up. Among these, Elmo wants to become a cowboy, Bert and Ernie become forest rangers, Betty Lou wants to be an astronaut, Grover become a police officer, Cookie Monster becomes a chef and opens a drive-in restaurant, and Roxie Marie want to be a train conductor. Big Bird although, isn't so sure what he wants to be. Partially Found - There are actually three versions of the show. Only one video of the original 1993 version can be seen, showing the obscured Betty Lou character[17]. The original "When I Grow Up" title song used in the show is lost, likely having Betty's verse. As in 1995, when Zoe was introduced in the show, Betty was removed. The 1995-01 version of the song, which is available[18], has The Count taking Betty's astronaut place in the song (which then gives the song an error, as Big Bird still asks Count what he wants to be when he grows up).

In 2007, the third version began touring, titled "When Elmo Grows Up". Major changes were made to the show, one of those introducing Abby Cadabby, Baby Bear (who replaced the even-obscurer Roxie's role), as well as changing Cookie Monster's job to a firefighter (with a scene actually recycled from Let's Play School - including a song). Telly's job is also changed to Elmo's cowboy, and Elmo becomes a "weather monster" instead. This show's soundtrack was fully released, however, the songs from the 1990s versions of the show are lost, one particular one being "Women Can Be".

Let's Be Friends 1994-2003 Elmo and Zoe start up a friendship club, but only monsters with red or orange fur just like theirs can join in. However, the two learn about inclusion and decide to get rid of the rule, now letting all of their friends of any shape and size join in as the club gets bigger and bigger. The club also does teamwork and builds a clubhouse together and helps out their friends such as Telly and Cookie Monster. Partially Found - A commercial shows footage of the show.[19] The entire soundtrack of the show is found, as it was released in 2000.
1-2-3 Imagine! 1996-2005 Sam, a mail carrier (played by a human performer), arrives on Sesame Street with postcards that she hands out to the characters from their pen pals. They start wanting to go to the places on the cards, so Sam shows them how to get there without going there at all, by using their imaginations. It works, and the characters imagine themselves in all kinds of places. Partially Found - Three versions of the show have toured. The 1996 version of the show originally had Sam as a male, but he was changed to female for whatever reason sometime in the second 2002-05 version. Therefore, the 1996 version of the opening (and also closing, which was a reprise of the opening song) theme is lost. Other than Barkley the dog being in the first and second version, as well as a scene with Oscar and Grundgetta vacationing at "Club Mud" which was only seen in 1996, the older revisions are likely the same in the third version, titled "1-2-3 Imagine! with Elmo & Friends" which began touring in 2009. A video of the 2002-05 version finale can be viewed.[20]. The entire soundtrack was released in 2009, however, it lacks a song titled "The Count's Imagination Rap", which is unknown if it was in that new show, or just in the older ones.
Elmo's Coloring Book 1997-2007 Professor Art, self claimed "the coloring book creator", and his primary colored female singing Muppet assistants The Palettes come to Sesame Street looking for pictures for his coloring books. Elmo and his friends are able to enter his coloring pages that come to life, but suddenly the colors begin disappearing all over the place, even affecting Oscar the Grouch who turns nice when he's not green. Partially Found - There are a good amount of clips and and even greater amount of photos of the 2004-07 tour of the show, but the original version from 1997 is lacking. Largely the same shows, the original version features a different design of the red, blue, and yellow Palettes. In the newer show, they sported a look with their secondary colors, which isn't presentable in the older one. A photo of the original costumes are online.[21] Furthermore, the 1997 how had Prairie Dawn as the role of Cleopatra in an Egypt scene, which was taken by Zoe in the second version.
Big Bird's Sunny Day Camp Out 1999-2002 Big Bird and his pachyderm pal Mr. Snuffleupagus decide to go camping, and their friends pack their things and come along too. However, they need to find the right spot to set up camp, and everywhere they go is always something. They go from Snuffy's own cave but he snores, to Bert and Ernie's house which is invaded by dancing sheep, among other. Lost - No footage of this show has surfaced, only a slew of pictures.
Everyone Makes Music 2001-2017 A new music teacher named Jenny moves to Sesame Street, however, there ends up being one problem and that her truck containing her musical instruments have never arrived. This problem is nothing though, when the characters realize that nearly anything, from mouths to household objects, can make a musical tune. Partially Lost - Being toured for 16 years total, there are a very great amount of videos from this show available. There are three versions of the show, the first being the 2001 one, and two other shows toured in 2006 and in 2011, under the name Elmo Makes Music. Notably, the 2011 show features Abby Cadabby.
Out of This World 2003-2006 Martians come down to Sesame Street, who only speak in their peculiar "yup yup" language. The characters show them that there are many ways to say hello and also teach them the alphabet, but before these Martians can be ready to go home, their spaceship must be repaired. Partially Found - While scarce, a couple of videos from this show can be found online, such as a commercial.[22]


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