Guests for November 15, 2020
Ep #31 Stephanie D'Abruzzo and Craig Shemin
Stephanie D’Abruzzo has been a Muppet Performer since she joined Sesame Street in 1993. Since then, she has performed hundreds of various characters (including Prairie Dawn since 2015). Her vocal performance in R.E.M.’s “Furry Happy Monsters” is a career highlight. She has worked on dozens of Sesame Street home videos and specials, and played “Grizzy” in The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland.
She also plays Cody in Helpsters for Apple TV+ (and Helpsters Help You, a series of short videos shot in her apartment during the COVID-19 quarantine). Other major puppetry projects include the upcoming Donkey Hodie (“Duck Duck” and “Harriet Elizabeth Cow”), Julie’s Greenroom (“Peri”), Scooby Doo Adventures: The Mystery Map (“Velma”), Oobi (“Uma,” “Inka”), Jack’s Big Music Show, and The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss. She played “Jan S. Port” in The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and has also performed in multiple episodes of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver as various puppets, mascots, and even a Sesame Street penguin.
D’Abruzzo guest-starred in the musical episode of NBC’s Scrubs, and returned twice during its ABC run, in a cameo in “My Finale,” and as a Sesame Street Muppet patient in “My ABC’s.”
She has lent her voice to Nature Cat, Bug Diaries, Welcome to the Wayne, Wallykazam!, The Wonder Pets!, Sheep in the Big City, and The Book of Pooh, as well as many commercials, promos, video games, interactive products, demos, industrials, and audiobooks. She has also written several episodes of Nature Cat and Donkey Hodie.
D’Abruzzo received Tony- and Drama Desk Award nominations – as well as a Theater World Award and a special Outer Critics Circle Ensemble Award – for originating her roles in Avenue Q. She has graced the New York stage in scores of productions, benefits, readings, and concerts, and has sung at Carnegie Hall and the Hollywood Bowl. Her roles in I Love You Because and Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical were also preserved in original cast recordings.
A Pittsburgh native and a graduate of Northwestern University, she is a former Burger King Employee of the Month who has been married to Craig Shemin since 1995.
Craig Shemin is a freelance writer-producer in all media and the President of the Jim Henson Legacy, a non-profit organization dedicated to celebrating the work of Jim Henson. Shemin is the author of The Muppets Character Encyclopedia and an upcoming book about Henson’s first television series, Sam and Friends. A noted Henson historian, he produced and directed the award-winning documentary Behind the Scenes in Frogtown Hollow, about the making of Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas and curates the Henson screening events at Museum of the Moving Image.
His television work includes the current PBS/Amazon series Clifford the Big Red Dog and Nick Jr.’s Abby Hatcher. He created and wrote Disney’s Lou and Lou: Safety Patrol, and wrote the Emmy-nominated Tasty Time with ZeFronk, also for Disney. He writes and directs the L.O.S. Kids live concert series (and its current virtual version) for New York City’s Little Orchestra Society. His adaptation of Babes in Toyland has played Lincoln Center for three holiday seasons and his updated version of Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel made its debut there in 2014.
His credits also include Nick Jr.’s Dora and Friends: Into the City, Oobi and Gullah Gullah Island and the Cartoon Network series Courage the Cowardly Dog.
He began his career at The Jim Henson Company, where he wrote for Telling Stories with Tomie DePaola, Donna’s Day and The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss (WGA nomination). He also wrote Muppets Inside, the award-winning computer game, co-wrote the Webby-nominated web series The Muppets Kitchen, assisted Miss Piggy with her cookbook, In the Kitchen With Miss Piggy and worked on numerous Muppet TV appearances. His more recent Muppet work includes Carnegie Hall’s Jim Henson’s Musical World and The Jim Henson Retrospectacle In Concert in New Zealand.
He is married to the delightful Stephanie D’Abruzzo.