October 02, 2013

By Carlos Ivan Irizarry

A Day in the Life of a Sesame Street Live Performer

Carlos Ivan Irizarry is performs as Bert in the Sesame Street Live production “Make a New Friend.” We’d like to thank Carlos for giving us a glimpse into the daily life of a Sesame Street Live performer.

My life as a Sesame Street Live performer is awesome. It’s amazing to bring the Sesame Street characters to life on stage across the country. I play Bert in Sesame Street Live “Make a New Friend.” I’m also a backup dancer, so I dress as a giant chocolate chip cookie for Cookie Monster’s “Me Want Cookie” solo, and wear a sparkling gold jacket to dance with Count Von Count in “Count Me In.” These roles allow me to see the crowd through my own eyes, as well as Bert’s. I find myself smiling no matter what costume I’m wearing, as the families in the crowd are so excited. 

Sesame Street Live “Make a New Friend” is an all-new show that premiered in August. We travel extensively, and I enjoy preparing for each audience; each day brings new challenges and opportunities, but also has a certain rhythm. Here’s my schedule on a typical day:

8:30 a.m.: Open the blinds and feel grateful to see ‘another sunny day.’ Shower and get dressed.

9:00 a.m.: Make my way downstairs for breakfast. Eating a healthy breakfast is important; it sets the tone for my day and gives me the focus and energy I need.

9:30 a.m.: Make my way to “van call” with fellow cast members, if the venue isn’t within walking distance of our hotel.

9:50 a.m.: Arrive at the venue and sign in so our Performance Director knows I’m in the building. Next, I check the call board, which gives the performers updates about show times, where we’re heading next, etc.

10:00 a.m.: Stretch and prepare for the show. As a performer, it’s crucial to condition my body properly; warming up for at least 15 minutes allows me to stay strong and dance without injury.

10:30 a.m.: We receive our half-hour call for the first performance.

10:55 a.m.: When we know that it’s just 5 minutes to show time, I pray, and thank God for all the small things, and for allowing me to bring joy, laughter, smiles to children and adults.

11:00 a.m.: The curtain opens and Carlos is left behind….I take the stage as Bert and as a back-up dancer for the next 90 minutes. Our performances require great concentration and agility, but my costumes are designed to fit me well – they are tailored for my height and body type, they feel like a second skin. As I look into the crowd, I love to see everyone’s facial expressions and their reactions to dance moves and funny lines in the show.

12:30 p.m.: The performance ends and families leave the venue. I get out of costume, take another shower, and enjoy a lot of water and a good lunch.

1 p.m.: I have a little free time this afternoon to explore the city before heading back to the hotel to catch up on e-mail and phone calls. Sometimes I have a publicity assignment, like a community appearance or phone-in interview for a newspaper, but not today. I might take a nap to recharge before the next show…zzzzzzzzzz.

5:15 p.m.: I head back to the venue to prepare for the evening performance; I sign in and check the call board again, in case there are updates or notes with our Performance Director. She’ll offer tips for our next performance – small changes that will make the different scenes look better. I’m scheduled for Sunny Seats tonight, so I get into costume earlier than usual. Tonight, Bert will get to interact up close with some of the families at our pre-show Meet & Greet experience. It’s a little extra work for me, but totally worth it – for me and the kids!

6:00 p.m.: Half-hour call…out of costume after Sunny Seats for a quick stretch and warm-up before getting dressed again.

6:30 p.m.: The lights dim, the curtain goes up…

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