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Sesame Street Live! ‘Say hello’ on the way to Playhouse Square

)Submitted)

Northeast Ohio native and Round Room Live Senior Producer Josh Blackburn is late for our call.

Since the conversation was going to be about Sesame Street Live! “Say Hello,” which comes to Cleveland April 24 for a show at Playhouse Square’s KeyBank State Theater, chances are he handled a backstage issue involving the beloved and sketchy characters.

For example, maybe Elmo and Abby Cadabby won’t get along on tour.

“Never,” Blackburn laughed, calling from New York City. “Elmo and Abby don’t argue at all. They are best friends.”

Okay, maybe there’s a problem with Cookie Monster’s rider? Has he started demanding only gluten-free cookies?

“No, I think it has more to do with Elmo’s dog Tango playing hide and seek,” he said. “For the first time ever, we’re saying hello to Tango. Elmo’s dog makes her live show debut.

“And sometimes, when little dogs are playing hide and seek, they forget that they need to be found. The hiding spot was quite difficult this morning. I had to search high and low for Tango.”

Therein lies not only the level of anxiety on “Sesame Street” but also perhaps a perfect theme for the next Sesame Street Live! tour.

These are exciting times for Round Room Live, which, when it comes to touring productions for children, is behind popular names such as Little Baby Bum Live, Peppa Pig Live, Baby Shark Live and Blue’s Clues & You! Live on stage.

The live entertainment production company recently released Sesame Street Live! added to its toddler-friendly selection.

“We’re super excited to kind of be the next stewards of Sesame Street Live!” to be, he said. “It means more to me than just being in the industry. My mom sent me an early 90’s photo of Sesame Street Live yesterday! at the Canton Civic Center.

“That was my first live theater experience, which is crazy. I have a photo of my father, who was pulled onto the stage to play a game with De Graaf. My father is no longer with us, so ‘Sesame Street’ has memories and things like that attached to it that for me go a little further than the entertainment industry.”

While the Minerva native was initially interested in live music, his talents and vision eventually led him to children’s productions. It may not be an exaggeration to suggest that the seed was planted decades ago, when as a toddler he saw his favorite “Sesame Street” characters come to life.

“It would probably be a bit of a stretch that seeing Big Bird myself as a five-year-old led to me becoming Big Bird’s producer, but it didn’t hurt at all,” he said. “That experience sparked my interest in acting and in high school bands.

“Soon after that I realized that this is a whole industry. So yeah, I think it might not be too far to say that this is just the seed that blossomed in the industry.”

It is his experience from decades ago that he uses to make ‘Say Hello’ something special.

“With our team at Round Room, we’re working super closely with the Sesame Workshop team on a show that everyone can be excited about and move the brand forward, but also keep it really grounded,” he said.

“The essence of Sesame Street to Ronde Kamer is kindness, learning, growth and friendship. That’s why it’s called Sesame Street Live! ‘Say hello.’ The world is a better place when you are kind to your neighbor and get to know your community. That’s where we want to take this show.”

Sesame Street Live! ‘Say hello’

When: 6:00 PM April 24.

Where: Playhouse Square’s KeyBank State Theater, 1519 Euclid Ave., Cleveland.

Tickets: $31.50 to $71.50.

Info: 216-241-6000 or PlayhouseSquare.org.