Friday, June 19, 2020

Move Review -- 'Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey'

By Matt Pascarella

You know his face and have probably heard his voice. Elmo is known by people of all ages throughout the world. But do you know the man behind this fury red monster? Kevin Clash has had an interest in puppetry since he was very young. This documentary shows you how Kevin got started and eventually met Elmo and the impact the two have had on so many.

“I didn’t know this was going to happen,” Clash said at the beginning. He had always dreamed of working with the Muppets. He was captivated by television and was a fan of the Wonderful World of Disney and Captain Kangaroo.

Clash loved Sesame Street from its very first airing in 1969. He wondered how the puppets were made and who was controlling them. He became immediately fascinated by the work of master puppeteer Jim Henson and whenever Henson had a special or a TV show, Clash was watching. He wanted to be a part of what Henson was doing.

Curiosity overcame him one day and he made a puppet out of his father’s coat. He was afraid of how he might react, but all his father said was ‘next time, just ask.’ From that point forward, both of his parents were extremely supportive. Clash began making his own puppets and performing at neighborhood puppet shows and for the children in his mother’s daycare. He had a gift and a dream. A dream that he stuck with from that point forward until today.

His first break came when he got on a Baltimore’s Channel 2 show called ‘Caboose.’ Now TV was more than entertainment, it was research. Clash watched the Muppet Show to try and figure out how to be as good as those puppeteers. He reached out to Kermit Love, who worked with Henson, and Love invited Clash to visit him in New York City. On a class trip, Clash met Love and was able to learn more about building and controlling puppets.

As Clash got better and better, people began to notice him, his skill and love for puppetry. He got a job working on Captain Kangaroo and brought Cookie Monster to life during a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. He soon was asked by Henson to work on the movie ‘Labyrinth.’

Afterwards he met Elmo, who was a little different than the Elmo of today. As the years went on, Kevin realized what a difference Elmo was making and how happy he made children. Elmo was quickly a sensation. Now, Clash is in high demand and has earned more responsibility on Sesame Street; the mentee has become the mentor.

This was a feel-good documentary. I never thought about the voices behind the Muppets because they are so life-like and well done. Learning more about Kevin Clash and getting a small peak behind the curtain as to what it’s like to be a puppeteer was interesting. My niece is a big Elmo fan and I think it’s pretty cool that Clash is still making a difference for a brand new generation. I recommend any fan of Elmo, no matter the age, watch this documentary. Two red fury thumbs up! <

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