Frankly good fun!
By Kim Edwards
This was the first time my reviewing buddy was a two-year old, but she was prepared to be a harsh critic. Admittedly, I was also prepared to be a little bored and a little underwhelmed by any efforts to get the beloved Sesame Street characters on stage in any kind of appealing way… and so, was pleasantly surprised. Elmo’s World Tour is very charming: a sleek, well-paced production where the cute characters are personable and plausibly familiar, the family entertainment factor is a clear priority, and the storyline is taut and neatly developed.
A world globe gift from Grover inspires Elmo to want to go traveling, and with the help of Abbycadabby to conjure up alphabet letters, he and the Sesame Street gang visit countries starting with those magical letters. Of course, with Abby only using her second-best wand, and Cookie Monster eating his letter C, the trip doesn’t always go smoothly, but of course everything works out in all the best ways.
I enjoyed the educational element that connected the story firmly to the TV show, including the multicultural theme that introduced the very excited pre-school audience to greetings in other languages, and music and dance styles reminiscent of the countries visited. I also loved that, along with these new songs, the plot managed to work in lots of the best vintage Sesame Street tunes and include a few key cameos from Ernie and Bert, and the Count. Less successful is the awkward Australian component and new character, but Lady Baa Baa’s inclusion is thankfully brief.
The anonymous performers do a simply wonderful job: the dance energy, physical characterisation and puppeteering are all excellent. Full-body costume work is always thankless, but the actors give no sign of being tired, hot or jaded after doing three performances a day and (I suspect at times) playing multiple characters. The costumes themselves look very authentic (no easy feat for muppets made full-size), and the set and props are practical for a touring show, but handsome and nicely manipulated.
The mood in the Regent Theatre was cheerful and supportive, with the sound not too loud, the house lights left dimmed, and a general empathy for parents and little fans who needed to exit, stand, fidget or snack during the show. My little critic and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, though I would recommend if paying extra for the Elmo meet-and-greet afterwards, you ensure your child isn’t likely to baulk at the (actual) enormity of their hero in person. There were a number of ‘wailing with Santa’-style incidents, but Elmo and his assistant were very sweet and patient, and the faces of devoted fans throwing their arms around their idol was a delight in itself.
The final 2014 performances of Elmo’s World Tour take place at The Clock Tower, Moonee Ponds, this Monday October 6. Tickets start from $22.40 at http://lifeliketouring.com/sesamestreetpresents/