Sesame Street’s 50th Anniversary Celebration is an all-ages primetime event that offers a sweeping look back at fifty years on the Street. Hosted by Joseph Gordon Levitt, the special reimagines classic segments and songs as the Sesame Street gang gets ready for a big party to celebrate the neighborhood’s 50th birthday. When the famous street sign goes missing before the party, it’s up to Elmo, Rosita, Grover, and Abby to track it down, while Big Bird and Snuffy plan a surprise of their own.
This star-studded special includes cameos from rare characters like Roosevelt Franklin and Kermit the Frog, and visits from celebrity guests. Joseph Gordon Levitt serves as the audience’s guide, breaking the fourth wall to talk to viewers about his favorite Sesame Street memories. (He also pops up inside some of those classic moments, discovering a telephone with the Yip Yip Martians, practicing “near” and “far” with Grover, and joining the shocked crowd meeting Snuffy for the first time.) Norah Jones sings “Welcome to the Party” as neighbors from yesterday and today return to the street. On the roof of 123 Sesame Street, music legend Nile Rodgers sings “People in Your Neighborhood” with a little help from Grover and Ernie. Sterling K. Brown masters Cookie Monster’s patented cookie-eating technique, and Elvis Costello joins Kermit in a touching rendition of “It’s Not Easy Being Green.” Elmo and Abby Cadabby join Meghan Trainor to sing the uplifting anthem “Count Me In.” Before the big party, Hoots the Owl tries one more time to convince Ernie to “Put Down the Duckie,” with help from friends like Whoopi Goldberg and Itzhak Perlman on the violin. The celebration culminates with a big performance of “Sing” on the iconic stoop, led by Patti LaBelle.
Nearly every human cast member returns for the celebration: Bob (Bob McGrath), Maria (Sonia Manzano), Luis (Emilio Delgado), Susan (Loretta Long), Gordon (Roscoe Orman), Linda (Linda Bove), Gina (Alison Bartlett), Leela (Nitya Vidyasagar), and Miles (Olamide Faison). Legendary puppeteers Fran Brill and Caroll Spinney and current cast members Alan (Alan Muraoka), Nina (Suki Lopez), and Chris (Chris Lawrence Knowings) also appear in the special.
Sesame Street’s 50th Anniversary Celebration premieres on Saturday, November 9th on HBO and Sunday, November 17th on PBS. The special is brought to PBS in part by Chrysler Pacifica and Macy’s.