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'Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families' Actor Cherishes Opportunity

Monday, June 11, 2012

Kyle Igneczi performs in the traveling show, the Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families. A native of Elyria, Ohio, Kyle takes time out of the tour’s schedule to answer a few questions from the USO.  

Q. How did you get involved with Sesame Street and the tour? 

Kyle: While studying theatre in college, I fell in love with the art of puppetry.  Having grown up with Sesame Street, it quickly became an aspiration to be a part of their international legacy, and a few years later I landed a job as a puppeteer at Sesame Place!  There I had the opportunity to perform a multitude of characters and this experience led to me being cast in the national tour of Sesame Street Live: Elmo Makes Music!  I continued studying puppetry in various forms and continued working in live theatre as well, so when the call came for this tour I jumped at the opportunity!

Q. Why do you think kids love Cookie Monster so much? 

Kyle: Cookie Monster is one of those classic childhood heroes that everyone loves!  He is genuine and honest in everything he does, especially when it comes to food (which, let’s face it, is a constant in his cookie crumb-filled life!).  He is innocent chaos incarnate and tends to bring out that little spark in kids of all ages... you know, the one that makes us want to eat anything and everything!  He stands up for the rights of all potential food and doesn’t discriminate against anything he might be able to chew on.  With his furry flurry of anarchy he inspires us to just let loose every once in a while... and, although easily distracted by anything “edibly” appealing, he is also a true blue friend, willing to go the extra mile to bring a smile to your face.

Plus, for me personally, I get to pick at his leftovers!

Q. You've made a lot of friends as you travel from base to base.  Please tell me a little about your new friend, Katie. 

Kyle: We’ve made countless friends of all ages since tour kicked off - kids, parents, and grandparents who have all been through some of the same things that Katie has experienced - but Katie is a really special little girl.  When faced with the challenges of being a military child, she has never been afraid to talk about her feelings.  Her strength and courage is actually what inspired this tour!

So many children have seen some of the same struggles (moving away from home and friends, having to make new friends, learning how to keep in touch) and even most adults have trouble expressing their feelings and fears.  This show is a great way to start a conversation with the whole family... PLUS, it helps to know that your Sesame Street friends will always be there for you!

Q. Describe what performing for the USO and the troops and their families means to you personally. 

Kyle: Never before have I been more proud to be a part of something.  When first welcomed into the USO family, I wasn’t entirely sure what was in store.  Having toured for years, I definitely knew how to travel, but I had no idea the impact performing for these families would have on me.

Meeting these families and hearing their stories is a constant reminder as to why this type of theatre is so important.  It is built with a specific mission to make the world a better place for families everywhere and inspire the younger generations to be a part of making that difference.

Both of my grandfathers served in the military, but never really talked about it much.  Now, being able to see the sacrifices they made and the risks they took, I feel closer to knowing them and the love they had for their families and for our country.  

Q. What are some of your fondest memories so far from the current tour? 

Kyle: Being a member of this tour is a constantly rewarding experience.  Hearing the roar of the crowd as the Sesame Street gang takes to the stage is a thrill in itself.  Ages become irrelevant as soon as Elmo is seen and the smiles and screams send the energy right through the roof!  To be honest, every single show is a cherished memory.

That being said, I would have to say that my favorite moment so far would have to be when we were performing at NS Norfolk and rumor started spreading that the crowd had something special in store for us.  When the show finally began, we saw that the school groups had all made masks or puppets of different Sesame Street characters and were waving them fervently at the stage.  It was wild to see so many googly eyes and even some life-sized Elmos staring back at us!  I still can’t help but laugh every time it crosses my mind!

* * *

* Watch a new video of the Sesame bus being wrapped while the characters get the show on the road.

* Read Kyle’s blog as he crisscrosses the country with Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families.

* Read a recent Q&A with Cookie Monster.

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