Bert, Ernie, Elmo, Oscar and friends take the stage

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Bert, Ernie, Elmo, Oscar and friends take the stage

I took a grown man with me to meet the organizers of “Sesame Street Live.” When we left, he said rather forlornly, “I wanted to meet Big Bird.”
On paper, it appears that “Sesame Street Live” is a musical that targets young children. In actuality, however, it’s got universal appeal. Adults from all over the world have childhood memories of “Sesame Street,” one of the United States’ longest-running children’s TV shows. The series began in 1969 with a cast of humans and “muppets,” which included Kermit the Frog, Bert, Ernie and the Cookie Monster. Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, Grover and the Anything Muppets quickly joined the crew.
The stage show “Sesame Street Live” began in 1980. Since then, four versions of the stage show have sprung forth ― “1, 2, 3.... Imagine!,” “Everyone Makes Magic,” “Let’s Be Friends” and “Out of This World.”
The cast of the show ― including Big Bird ― arrived in Korea for the first time on Tuesday. They will perform “Let’s Be Friends” at the Opera House in the Seoul Arts Center today through Aug. 24.
Bert and Ernie are the most popular Sesame Street characters in Europe. In the United States, Elmo is most popular. Organizers can only hazard a guess as to who the designated favorite will be here on the cast’s first tour of Korea.
“I grew up in the States watching ‘Sesame Street,’ ‘Electric Company’ and ‘Mr. Rogers,’” says Ellie Chung, executive director of Phoenix Entertainment Korea, organizer of the show here. “It was the first program that I watched while trying to learn English.”
Sesame Street delivers basic skills, such as simple counting and reading. However, it also teaches children the values of sharing and being considerate of others.
In “Let’s Be Friends,” Elmo creates an exclusive friendship club of only monsters with orange or red fur, leaving out Big Bird, Snuffle-upagus and Cookie Monster. By the end of the show, however, everyone learns about the values of teamwork and friendship.
Elisa Kim, the executive producer, also recalls watching the show as a child growing up in Korea. Watching the program on DVD as an adult today, she notes, “It is just fun.”
The tunes are catchy, and there are even occasional celebrity guest appearances. As for the characters, Ms. Kim, whose claimed favorite is Elmo, says, “They’re just so lovable.”


by Joe Yong-hee

Seoul Arts Center is in southern Seoul. Take subway line No. 2 to Seocho station. For information, visit www.sesamestreetlive.co.kr.
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