Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Live Review: Sesame Street Live-Elmo's Green Thumb

This was my third Sesame Street Live performance, and I’m happy to say it will be the last one that I’ll ever have to see. It’s my wife’s doing; she thinks the performances mean a lot to the kids, but I think she’s finally seen the light and admitted defeat.
The boy went to his first one when he was 3 and he seemed to really enjoy it. We took him to one right before he turned 5 and you could tell the magic was gone by then. He was more interested in nagging us for ice cream, cotton candy, and all of the other over-priced crap then caring about what was happening on stage.
Now, since he’s weeks away from his 7th birthday, we left him home with the grandparents while we took our daughter to her first exposure to Sesame Street Live. She loves music and her third birthday is in two weeks, so this should be the appropriate time for this kind of nonsense.
If you’ve never seen a Sesame Street Live performance, first, count your blessings. Secondly, understand that you never actually need to ever see a Sesame Street Live performance. Ever. Even if you have kids.
The idea is this: dress up people in life-size Sesame Street character outfits, have them sing songs together and tie the whole thing together with some half-assed plot.
In years past, the cast had a human main character that facilitated the story and acted as kind of a central figure. I think that the first one was some kind of scientist and another year there was a music teacher. For this touring troupe, however, there was no central human character. The Sesame Street characters worked solo with some plant theme entitled “Elmo’s Green Thumb.”
Elmo is a superstar. They tease the kids and make him come out last and when he does, there’s a bunch of excitement. One of the shows I saw actually had Grover as the main character on all of the promotional material, but when the lights came up, it was obvious that the main character was that red bastard, Elmo.
So Elmo has some bullshit sunflower that he needs to plant and some other character-a chick monster that resembles Zoe-but isn’t-has a magic wand and shrinks half of the characters down to bug-size. Then she can’t figure out how to get them back to normal size, while the other Sesame Street characters worry about where their shrunken friends are and…Yeah, if you’re having trouble following this, imagine if you’re two, you’re in a darken arena with a bunch of other kids and a bunch of sugar, and see if you can follow along too.
It was the worst plot of any of the shows I’ve seen.
The songs were just as bad. Sometimes, they’d do a different rendition of a Sesame Street song or another children’s song that you’d heard of, but other times they’d do an original song that tied in to the plant theme.
Actually, I think it was an environmental theme, because there was one song when the characters were tiny that was sung by a bunch of beetles that almost looked like German soldiers. Someone dropped an apple core and they sang a song about breaking it down.
I think that was about composting.
On other songs, they just changed the words to popular hits, like “New Attitude” by the Pointer Sisters. A good example was when Big Bird walked out to his garden and found a new pumpkin there. He broke out into Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On,” after noticing the pumpkin and changed the words of the song during the verses.
At least it wasn’t something from Gaye’s Let’s Get It On album.
I liked the Count’s song the best, but I can’t remember what it was about.
I have to confess that I stopped paying attention to the plot, the songs, and to the action on stage after a while, not only because I was bored, but also because everything was way hard to follow. Like whenever the scenes alternated to the tiny characters, there was no frame of reference to let you know they were small. They were still the same size on stage, and aside from the continual references to trying to get big again, so you didn’t know the we tiny unless they kept talking about it. In fact, on one scene, they seemed really happy and singing about bees, so I thought, “Oh, they must have found the right spell to get big again.” Then they started moping again and I understood that they hadn't resolved their issue, they were just bi-polar.
The real fun, as with any Sesame Street Live performance, is watching the kids and how their parents try to control them. There was an evil grandmother-type security personnel stationed at the front of the stage that would shuffle over to any two year old if they got out of their seat and began wandering around the front of the stage. She’d point her finger at them and tell them to get back in their seats, singling out a few “troublemakers” while letting a few get away with more than the others.
Here’s a picture of the grandmother security guard getting ready to bolt towards a 2-year-old girl and give her to pointy finger. Luckily, her mom caught her before Cobrafinger did.
On one of the two occasions that my daughter had to go to the bathroom, her mom walked her down the aisle and she noticed that the Goldilocks character was just a few feet away from her. She immediately forgot about the need to pee and bolted towards the character before her mom grabbed her arm just before she was at full speed.
I watched it from my seat and started to laugh, until the black kid that was kicking me in the ass from the seat behind us thought that I was laughing at him for kicking me in the ass. He laughed and began kicking double time until I turned around and glared at him while he was still in the safe confines of his father’s lap.
Kids breaking free and running for the stage is a common event at a Sesame Street Live performance, and after three shows, I’m totally bummed that I never saw a kid make it.
It was about three minutes after the second half started when my daughter asked, “When are we going home?” Yes, kids don’t quite understand that with their cotton candy high comes a devastating crash. They also don’t understand that this shit costs $30 a ticket, so no matter how whiney or tired they may be, Mommy and Daddy are going to make damn sure they get their money’s worth.
But even the hint of discontent was music to our ears as we determined that we would never have to endure another Sesame Street Live even ever again.
We did grant her one wish a let her pick out something from the merch table. Out of all of the crap available, she decided she wanted a tour cd to repeatedly play over and over in her room.
I would have preferred that she got an Elmo hat and I could let her borrow a Marvin Gaye album.
The original version of "What's Goin' On?" is so much better than Big Bird's cover.


Thomas the Durkin said...

The monster you refer to is Abby Cadaby. She's a weird cross between Zoe and the Amazing Mumford.

I've had to experience the Wiggles and the Doodlebops; I know your pain, my brotha.

Your Humble Proprietor said...

I couldn't resist looking up a video of Marvin's posthumous salute to the unanticipated appearance of gourds.


Cousin J said...

Thanks for the heads up. We've been discussing this show as a possibility but price is really the determining factor. There's also a 'Walking with Dinosaurs' show and The Wiggles which he might enjoy. All shows end up being more than I would pay to see most bands. The Wiggles gig was gonna be $130 for 3 of us!! Anyway thanks for helping make my mind up about Elmo. Not saying it'll never happen but it ain't gonna be this year. They can't miss what they know nothing about.

Tanja said...

When I saw the commercial on TV for this I immediately thought of you and that you'd probably be in attendence.