'Sesame Street' Open Auditions Seek Show's Newest Resident

By Nikhita Venugopal on August 21, 2012 7:58am 

MIDTOWN — The way to "Sesame Street" apparently runs through Midtown.

Hundreds lined up on Monday outside the Roseland Ballroom on West 52nd Street for an open casting call for the long-running children's television show. 

Producers are looking to fill the role of a Hispanic character between the ages of 18 to 25, fluent in Spanish and English, to join the likes of Elmo, Big Bird and the Cookie Monster, according to the Sesame Street blog.

Actors auditioning had to be "warm, likable and engaging," and they were required to sing a cappella in Spanish and English, according to the site.

The audition included three rounds, and actors were first tested on their Spanish language skills. If they passed they were sent to a second round, where they could show off their acting chops in a scripted conversation with Elmo, one of the show's beloved characters. Lucky finalists went on to a singing audition.

"This is the first time we've ever done an open call," said Carol-Lynn Parente, the show's executive producer for the past 24 years. "It seems like the right thing to do for 'Sesame Street.' "

Parente added that while the show does not deal with bilingual education, it was important to have a Spanish- and English-speaking character who could communicate with the growing Hispanic community, especially for the show's outreach programs.   

Alejandro Cruz, 23, was standing in line outside the Roseland Ballroom on West 52nd Street with a drum in hand, waiting for his turn to audition. A percussionist and a musician, Cruz had heard about the open auditions and decided to try out. He said his character was going to be "happy" and "excited." 

"I'm just going as Alejandro," he added.

Originally from Chile, Constanza Palavecino, 25, said she wanted her character to be "very cheerful and energetic."

"I learned English watching 'Sesame Street,' " said Palavecino, who moved to New York three years ago. 

Several other actors stood with Cruz, singing and playing music to pass the time. Marcos de Jesus, who also came with an instrument in hand, said he had a personality fitting for "Sesame Street." 

"I think everyone here is sort of Muppet-like," he said.

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