Leslie Carrara-Rudolph (Performer, Book, Music, and Lyrics)
She is best known for performing Abby Cadabby on Sesame Street for which she has received three Emmy® nominations. A graduate of San Francisco State University (BA, Child Development Through the Arts), Leslie got her start as a puppeteer on ABC’s Muppets Tonight where she met her talented husband, Paul. Most recently she performed the character of Lily, created for the primetime Sesame Street television special “Growing Hope Against Hunger,” and she has been in several outreach videos for the Children’s Television Workshop.
Other television credits include Disney’s Johnny and the Sprites (puppeteer/Ginger Sprite), Nickelodeon’s animated series T.U.F.F. Puppy (Peg Puppy), and The Electric Company Haunted House cartoon sketches (Wolfman, Mummy, and Bat). Theatrical credits include Sweeney Todd (Beggar Woman), Little Shop of Horrors (Audrey), Parallel Lives (Mo), The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe (one-woman show), and Life in Other People’s Shoes (original one-woman show-HBO Workspace in Hollywood). Additionally, Leslie was member of the Fantasy Forum Actors Ensemble for 13 years. Leslie created a live stage show for the Walt Disney company called the Wahoo Wagon that featured her original characters and ran at the El Capitan Theater in Hollywood. She is a founding member of the Henson Alternative improv group Stuffed and Unstrung.
In her spare time, Leslie teaches workshops and creates her own brand of magic and joy. She loves dogs and pipe cleaners. This show is dedicated to her family and friends along with a big Thank You for their love and inspiration.
Michele Spears (Director) is a theatre director, choreographer, actress and arts educator living in Los Angeles. Directing highlights include A Little Traveling Music (New York Nightlife Award for Best Comedy/Variety Cabaret), One Night Stand (Edinburgh Fringe, with executive producer Marc Platt), Something Special – The Lyrical Life of Billy Barnes (starring Nancy Dussault), and 40 is the New 15 (L.A. StageScene Awards for Best Musical, Best Direction, and Best Ensemble). She choreographed Fellowship! (NYMF 2011, L.A. Weekly & Saturn Awards – Best Musical); Bat Boy and The Rocky Horror Show (Santa Barbara Independent Awards – Best Choreography); the feature films Nightingales, The Wizard of ID, and Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss (Sundance Selection, American Choreographer’s Award Nomination); and several productions for the Los Angeles Gay Men’s Chorus including Simply Sondheim (starring Joanna Gleason) and Jerry’s Boys (starring Jerry Herman). Her work has been produced at the Carpenter Center, Alex Theatre, The Colony, Falcon Theatre, Cornerstone Theater, The Migrant Youth Theatre Project, The Academy for New Musical Theatre, Musical Theatre Guild at The Pasadena Playhouse, and the Mercury Music Development Company in London, among others. As an actress she has performed in national and European tours, Off-Broadway and regional theatre, film, television, theme parks, and bars. She is a long-time member of the award-winning improvisational theatre company Impro Theatre, which has performed all over the world. As an educator, she has taught acting, improvisation and writing for USC, UCLA, LA Unified Artists in Residency Program, and Harvard-Westlake School. Michele is a graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and a member of the Directors Lab West. www.michelespears.com
John B. deHaas (Music Director, Pianist) Recent shows include Hedwig and the Angry Inch (Footlight Theater), Falsettos (Baggy Pants Theater), Disney’s The Little Mermaid Jr. (West Orange HS), Theme Park Diva (Book, Music, and Lyrics at 2012 Orlando Fringe) and Dazzled to Death (Music at 2012 Orlando Fringe), Wake Up Your Weird! (Off Broadway), 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Bay Street Players), Altar Boyz (The Abbey), The Fantasticks (Seminole State College), Jekyll & Hyde, Hairspray (West Orange HS), Wake Up Your Weird!(O’Neill Theater Center, CT, and National Center for Puppetry Arts Atlanta, GA), [title of show] (Orlando Fringe and 5 Times Patron’s Pick Award winner), The Civil War (Virginia Musical Theater), A Little Night Music, Nuncrackers (Bay Street Players), Little Women, A Wonderful Life (Icehouse Theater), The Big Bang (Orlando Shakes), Mamma Mia (National Tour FL, NC, OK). Ongoing: Princess Tea and Hoop-Dee-Dee Revue (Walt Disney World).
Grant Baciocco (Video Production/Additional Puppeteer/Website/Podcast) began working with the Jim Henson Company in 2006 as the producer and host of the company’s official podcast, “The Henson.com Podcast.” He later became a puppeteer and host for their puppet improv show Stuffed and Unstrung. He is also the creator of several award-winning, family-friendly podcasts including “The Radio Adventures of Dr. Floyd,” “Did This Happen?” and “Grant’s Advent Calendar Video Podcast.” His comedy music act, Throwing Toasters, has toured clubs and colleges across the country, played a sold-out show at the Tokyo Dome in Japan, had several #1 hits on The Dr. Demento Show and opened for “Weird Al” Yankovic. Grant is an Associate Producer on Joel Hodgson’s Cinematic Titanic and can be seen weekly as a backstage interviewer for Championship Wrestling from Hollywood. Find out more at www.MrGrant.com.
Michael Bush (Set Designer)Design credits include co-creation of Icarus, earning Michael a spot in Puppetry International’s “Forty Under 40” puppet artists to look out for in the future; characters for The Ohmies; chickens for regional Emmy-winning commercial, ABC 12 News Michigan; sculptor for the Detroit Parade Company; and puppet technical director for Mary Nagler’s Little Things. As a puppeteer, performance includes It Can’t Happen Here, Little Things (Connecticut Repertory Theatre), Peter and the Wolf (Hartford Symphony Orchestra), and Wes Craven’s My Soul to Take, as well as work for the Puppet Heap Moving Picture Company on their productions of I Knew an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly! and Mother Hubbard, both as the title old women. Michael currently works at Puppet Heap as a puppet builder and foam latex specialist. He has a BFA in Crafts from the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, Michigan, and MFA candidacy in Puppetry from the University of Connecticut. Recipient of a 2010 Jim Henson Foundation Project Grant. www.flyingboyproductions.com
Ryan Dillon (Puppeteer) is a puppeteer and puppet builder who lives in Brooklyn, NY. He has performed for various television series, including various monsters, chickens, and assorted anythings for “Sesame Street,” and his puppetry work has also been seen on Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, NBC, CBS, ABC, as well as regional and national commercials. Ryan currently can be seen as Kraft spokes-character Mel the Milkbite on your TV screens! Ryan is so thrilled and honored to be on the Lolly Trolley, helping one of his best friends make her Off-Broadway debut. Spread the weird! http://www.dillypuppets.com
Natalie George (Lighting Designer) is a designer, producer, and artist based in Austin, TX. A student of technical theater at St. Edward’s University, Natalie was the Lighting Director at Austin’s State Theater from 2004 to 2006, and during this time she returned to her Alma Mater as the Lighting Director of the Mary Moody Northern Theater. Natalie’s lighting designs at MMNT included Parade, Mid Summer, Cyrano De Bergerac, and Peer Gynt.
While at MMNT, Natalie’s talents took her in other directions including production managing, producing new works, and other lighting designs. Notable works include The Assumption, Magic Flute, Flush and Biloxi Blues, Baal, and GLANK. In 2009 she left the University to focus primarily on the Austin Fusebox Festival, where she is currently the Producing Director. Additionally, Natalie has been the resident lighting designer for the Nation Puppetry Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center since 2005.
Natalie’s current producing credits include the short film, The Runner, which was selected by the Austin Film Festival to be screened in 2011 and new plays Sad, Sad, Sad and Spacestation 1985. Both plays were workshopped in Austin and New York. Spacestation 1985 will have its full premiere in Austin in September 2012.
Natalie was honored with awards for “Best Lighting Design” by both the Austin Critics Table and the B. Iden Payne Awards for the 2010-2011 season.
Tiff Gravel (Podcast Producer) is a diverse filmmaker, whose credits vary from working in the Puppet Workshop on Disney’s The Muppets to directing a documentary film investigating claims of genocide in Northern Uganda. In 2007, her film was profiled by ABC News, and later that year she was awarded a Governor’s Commendation for her extraordinary bravery, commitment, and dedication in assisting to bring to light the plight of the people of Uganda.
Other past projects include producing, music videos, various small projects, and short films along with a docu-reality series called “The Kingvale Project.” As a freelance photojournalist, her work has been featured on “Dateline NBC,” and published by ABC News, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Morris Media Group, and The New York Times Company.
Outside of the Wake Up Your Weird! podcast, her online video content includes a series of videos for GrowingVoices.org documenting their 2011 journey to Malawi and the OK Go “Muppet Show Theme Song” music video, and the Muppets Orange Cellular commercial.
Martin Kettling (Dramaturg) manages the selection process for the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s National Playwrights Conference, the National Music Theater Conference, and the National Puppetry Conference, and provides dramaturgical support to all of the Center’s programs, including the National Theater Institute. His role as dramaturg includes developing new plays by Rachel Axler, Carrie Barrett, Lucy Caldwell, Rebecca Gilman, Lauren Gunderson, Jennifer Haley, Deborah Zoe Laufer, Alex Lewin, Gregory Moss, Ursula Rani-Sarma, and Anne Washburn. Other support work includes with Ifa Bayeza, Julia Cho, Nilo Cruz, Jason Grote, Regina Taylor, Jeff Whitty, and assisting the world premiere of Sarah Ruhl’s Passion Play. A major focus of his work is managing devised scripts; for example, serving as writer’s assistant to Moisés Kaufman in the creation of 33 Variations. Martin has worked internationally at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the International Chekhov Festival in Moscow, the University of Passau, Germany, and worked on the founding of the Baltic Playwrights Conference. He is a graduate of Western Michigan University.
Mary Hildebrand Nagler (Set Designer) began her career in 1971, street performing Punch and Judy in the traditional style. She is one of the first women ever hired out of Ringling Bros. & Barnum & Bailey Circus Clown College. She toured with the show for a year using puppets on The Greatest Show on Earth! After receiving her BFA with an emphasis in sculpture and painting, Mary worked for the Emmy Award-winning company,Images in Motion, in Sonoma California. For over twelve years Nagler worked on many interesting projects, including the marionettes used in the film Being John Malkovich.
Recently, Nagler completed the course work for her MFA Degree at the nationally acclaimed Puppet Arts Program at the University of Connecticut. There, Nagler wrote, directed, and produced an original work called “Little Things,” which employed 47 puppets of varying styles. Her new show, Terran’s Aquarium, is an ecology show about the fresh water crisis in the world. Terran’s Aquarium received a 2011 Family Grant from the Henson Foundation and the opportunity to workshop the production at the Carriage House in New York.
Dani L. Pruitt (Stage Manager) spends her time coordinating events for Texas Performing Arts at the University of Texas at Austin. Her most recent performances include Long Gone Lonesome (National Theatre of Scotland) and Rappahannock County (in sponsorship with Modlin Center for the Arts at University of Richmond, Virginia Arts Festival, and Virginia Opera). Before finding her home at the University of Texas, Dani worked with some of the top companies in Austin including Fusebox Festival, Spank Dance, and Austin Script Works. She looks forward to putting on her Stage Manager hat, and feels blessed to be a part of this incredible project and humbled by such an awesome team.
Paul Rudolph (Music Coordinator/Percussion) is a musician first and a welder last. In between the two, he works for “Sesame Street”as the vocal music director/arranger, recordist, and composer. He has directed vocals for “Sesame Street” TV, home video, and web content, plus live performances including the 2009 televised Emmy tribute to 40 years of “Sesame Street.” Music composition credits/clients include “Elmo’s Monster Maker,” Leslie Carrara-Rudolph, Heather Henson, Marty Robinson, Patrick Bristow of The Groundlings Los Angeles, and SpeakEasy FX as well as “Sesame Street” TV, web, and app content. Arranger credits include Muppet legend Jerry Nelson’s original CD Truro Daydreams and work as an arranger/conductor/percussionist for 11 years with the composing duo of Trivers/Myers Music in Los Angeles. Paul’s percussion performance art group GLANK continues to build momentum, and he continues to design and build found-object “metalophones.” Formed in 2002 in Los Angeles, GLANK has performed customized shows at music festivals, art galleries, and children’s events, and made its New York debut at La Mama in July 2011. Paul met his bride, Leslie Carrara-Rudolph, when he was assistant music director and composer for ABC’s “Muppets Tonight.” Musically speaking, Paul wishes he had more time to practice his favorite analogue instrument, the vibraphone. “It never crashes and has no operating system – just me.” http://www.glanktheproduct.com/