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Published: Thursday, 10/7/2004

'Sesame Street Live' takes youngsters on a colorful journey


What would the world be like without any color?

Jen Miller knows. And the 24-year-old Cleveland resident helps introduce young children and their families to a pale planet in the Sesame Street Live production of Elmo's Coloring Book, which opens tonight in the SeaGate Convention Centre.

Ms. Miller plays Prairie Dawn, one of the Sesame Street characters in the show that features fuzzy favorites such as Elmo, Zoe, Oscar, and Big Bird. She also is one of three understudies who have learned up to five roles (based on character size) and are ready to step in for another cast member at a moment's notice.

Elmo's Coloring Book follows Sesame Street characters on a journey with Professor Art and his helpers, the Palettes, Ms. Miller says.

The characters travel into their drawings to places such as ancient Egypt, the land of the dinosaurs, and a musical junkyard.

"Professor Art visits with his three furry monsters, who are all in the primary colors of red, yellow, and blue," Ms. Miller says. "He has a machine that makes the pictures come to life. But all the colors begin disappearing [because of] this polar bear named Blanche, and characters like Oscar begin turning white.

"In the end, Blanche gives the colors back, so it becomes a story about friendship and sharing," Ms. Miller says. The show also teaches lessons in diversity and tolerance.

Ms. Miller says she has special feelings for Sesame Street Live, which is in its 25th year.

"Sesame Street Live was one of the first live shows I ever saw," she says. "I remember seeing Big Bird, and I swore that he was on roller skates. Big Bird was one of my favorites, but I also remember having a large liking for Oscar."

Adults in the audience will remember many of the show's songs, which hark back to earlier years of the Sesame Street television show (now in its 35th year): "Sing," "Sunny Days" (Sesame Street's theme song), "True Colors," and "I Love Trash."

Ms. Miller, a member of Sesame Street Live for six years, says she

jumped at the chance to audition when tryouts were held in her hometown of Buffalo. She says she has always enjoyed dancing, and most of the cast members have dance, theater, and acting experience. A typical tour company has 28 people, she says, which includes 17 performers, and eight crew members, and three other employees. There are four Sesame Street Live shows now on tour: 1-2-3 ... Imagine!, Everyone Makes Music, Out of This World, and Elmo's Coloring Book. Ms. Miller says Elmo's Coloring Book tours nearly 70 cities in 11 months.

"It's an addictive lifestyle," she says. "We never do the same thing every day. We go to a different city, and a different theater almost every week, and the show really interacts with the audience."

Sesame Street Live's Elmo's Coloring Book opens at 7 p.m. today at SeaGate Convention Centre, 401 Jefferson Ave. Other show times are 10:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. tomorrow; 10:30 a.m. and 2 and 5:30 p.m. Saturday, and 1 and 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $12.50 for children ages 1 to 12 and $14 for adults, with a limited number of $18 premium seats available. An opening night price of $11 per ticket is available for tonight's show. Tickets are available through the SeaGate Convention Centre box office or Ticketmaster at 419-474-1333 or www.ticketmaster.com.

Contact Rhonda B. Sewell at: rsewell@theblade.com

or 419-724-6101.

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