Sesame Street’s ‘Make a New Friend’ show coming to Johnstown

JOHNSTOWN – Some things are timeless, like good friends, a great cookie and even legendary rocker Mick Jagger.

All those things come together in the latest version of the traveling Sesame Street Live show, “Make a New Friend,” which comes to the Cambria County War Memorial Arena in Johnstown next month.

The old favorites will be there, like Elmo, the Cookie Monster and Grover who sing traditional tunes, like the TV show’s theme song, “Sunny Days.” But there are also some new tunes, like a parody of Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger” that should keep parents entertained.

The show also features parodies of song hits by Katy Perry and Bruno Mars, said Joy Carlson, performance director for Sesame Street Live.

“We like to keep up-to-date with what’s going on now,” she said. “We keep the parents just as entertained as we do the kids.”

But the show is really about the little ones and this year’s show has a new twist. It’s the first time an international character has been introduced who’s not a regular member of the TV cast. On the show, there’s one character who represents another culture and that’s Rosita, who’s Mexican, Carlson said.

The premise of “Make A New?Friend” is that Grover’s friend from India, whose name is Chamki, is visiting Sesame Street for just one day. He introduces her to his friends on Sesame Street, like the Cookie Monster, who is very interested when she tells him about the cookies in India called “biskuts.”

“Chamki is a little shy at first, but Grover helps her to makes friends,” Carlson said. “So it’s nice for kids to see that it’s not so bad if they’re shy, too, that they can make friends.”

Grover has a long list of things he wants to do with Chamki, including kayaking and yoga, but he soon finds out he’s running out of time. He even wants to turn into “Super Grover 2.0,” a kind of super hero shown on the TV show, to get it all done.

But he eventually learns that the lesson of friendship is that you don’t have to do a lot of things together to be friends, you just have to spend time together, Carlson said.

The Sesame Street Live show has been making kids, parents and grandparents smile for 34 years, playing in both big and small cities across the country, said Carlson. Most of the 13 cast members are dancers and during the show they interact a lot with the audience, moving throughout the auditorium.

The show tours from the end of August through next July, she said.

People in the Altoona-Johnstown area have loved the Sesame Street Live shows for at least two decades, said Tom Grenell, general manager of the Cambria County War Memorial Arena. He said the shows attract children as young as infants and they just keep coming back, year after year.

“This may be the first show that parents takes their child to but the memories will last a lifetime,” he said.

The War Memorial can seat up to 5,000 for a concert, but Grenell said they alter the seating so that the three Sesame Street shows will only accommodate 1,500 people at each show.

“A young person needs to be more close,” he said. “If you’re more than 300 hundred feet away from Elmo, you’re probably not going to have a good experience.”