my complete biography as of march 2018
Stephanie D'Abruzzo is best known for her Tony nominated debut performance as Kate Monster and Lucy the Slut in the Tony-winning Broadway musical Avenue Q. In addition to her Tony nomination, she also received a Theatre World Award, and a special Outstanding Ensemble & Puppet Artistry Award from the Outer Critics Circle, as well as a 2003 Drama Desk nomination for her work in Avenue Q’s Off-Broadway run. She has also graced the New York stage in Jerry's Girls, I Am I Will I Do, Academia Nuts, Greed: A Musical for our Times, Love and Real Estate, Tomfoolery, The Mad Show, It Must Be Him, Stuffed and Unstrung, Don’t Say Another Word, Plaisir D’Amour, Austentatious, Kiss and Makeup, I Love You Because, Carnival (Encores!), Encores! 10th Anniversary Bash, and the Theatreworks/USA limited NYC run of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and Other Story Books. She’s even played the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park, where she played a Muppet Cookie in Sesame Street’s brief cameo segment as part of the Public Works’ production of A Winter’s Tale.
Outside of New York, her credits include [title of show] at St. Louis Rep, two benefit performances of The Guys in Lakeland, FL, and the world-premiere of Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical at the Kennedy Center, where she originated the role of the pre-verbal toddler Trixie.
She has also performed in dozens of staged readings and workshops, including the very first presentations of Avenue Q. Her vocal performances are captured on the Grammy-nominated Original Broadway Cast Album of Avenue Q, the original cast recordings of Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical and I Love You Because, and the live benefit recording of Avenue Q Swings.
Stephanie made her Carnegie Hall debut with the New York Pops in Skitch Henderson’s New Faces of 2004, and came back to the Hall and the Pops in 2012 to sing, dance, fake-play the violin, and puppeteer in Jim Henson’s Musical World. She has performed in two star-studded concerts honoring Stephen Sondheim’s 75th birthday in 2005: Children and Art: Stephen Sondheim’s 75th Birthday Gala and Stephen Sondheim’s 75th: the Concert at the Hollywood Bowl. In addition, she made her solo cabaret debut at the famed jazz club Birdland in 2005, and has also performed at Caroline’s, the Town Hall, 54 Below, and a number of Broadway and New York area theatres for countless benefits and concerts, including two installments of the 24 Hour Musicals, Sondheim Unplugged, the Atrainplays XXI and XXII, and the Actor’s Fund concert of Chess. She also appeared more than a dozen times in Gravid Water at Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theatre between 2008-2010, and hosted the short-lived Songwriter’s Salon at Times Square Arts Center five times.
Stephanie made her prime-time television debut sans puppet as the guest star of the much-remembered musical episode of the NBC series Scrubs, and can be heard on the iTunes exclusive soundtrack. She returned to Scrubs twice during its brief ABC run, as a cameo in “My Finale”, and as a Muppet patient in “My ABC’s” that featured characters from Sesame Street.
A native of McMurray, PA (a suburb of Pittsburgh), Stephanie attended Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, where she studied Radio/TV/Film production. While at Northwestern she received a National College Television Award from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for Freeform, her original half-hour puppet comedy. After graduating in 1993, she began working with the Jim Henson Company as a Muppet Performer. Since that time she has puppeteered and voiced more than 400 characters for film and television.
Stephanie has spent 25 seasons as a Muppet Performer on the Emmy-winning Sesame Street, where she has lent her talents to a variety of one-off characters (including the short-lived semi-regulars Curly Bear, Lulu, and Elizabeth). In Season 46, she inherited the role of Prairie Dawn from the great Fran Brill. She brings life to countless inanimate objects on Elmo's World, parodies a slew of popular film characters in Cookie Monster’s Crumby Pictures Presents, and sings principal and/or chorus roles in nearly every Elmo the Musical. She can also be heard in many animated and Muppet inserts on Sesame Street, including “30 Rocks,” “Preschool Musical,” and “G!” (the Glee parody) and her vocal performance with R.E.M. on their “Furry Happy Monsters” is featured on the Songs From the Street: 35 Years of Music box set. In addition, she voiced an assortment of plasticine characters in Bert & Ernie’s Great Adventures, as well as Super Fairy in Abby’s Flying Fairy School. She has performed in dozens of Sesame home videos, the television specials The Cookie Thief, When Families Grieve, Families Stand Together: Feeling Secure in Tough Times, Elmo’s Christmas Countdown, Elmo's Magic Cookbook, Elmopalooza and CinderElmo, as well as the 1999 feature film The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland. She can also be heard on the Grammy-winning recordings of Elmo in Grouchland and Elmopalooza.
But Sesame Street is not the only place Stephanie plies her craft. She plays Peri on the new Netflix series Julie's Greenroom, on which she also served as puppeteer captain. She puppeteered and voiced Velma (as well as some incidental characters) in the direct-to-DVD feature Scooby Doo Adventures: The Mystery Map (which has also aired on Cartoon Network). She played Uma and Inka on the acclaimed Noggin preschool series Oobi, and she also puppeteered a Muppet Ann Curry when the Muppets took over the Today show. She has also performed on Jack’s Big Music Show (guest-starring with Jon Stewart), Bear in the Big Blue House, Donna's Day, The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss, Binyah Binyah!, The Puzzle Place, and other various projects you may or may not have heard of (the former being Muppets: Letters to Santa, the latter being Dog Cat Blog Chat). She has taken great joy in performing several puppet characters (and even a couple of mascots) for Last Week Tonight With John Oliver. Also, her heavily made-up hands were the hands of Pupazza in The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
As a voice-only talent, her credits include Nature Cat (for which she has also written four episodes), Bug Diaries, Welcome to the Wayne, Wallykazam!, The Wonder Pets!, Sheep in the Big City and The Book of Pooh, as well as a myriad of promos and commercials, video games and interactive products, demos, industrials, educational tools, and narration for more than a dozen Scholastic children’s read-along books on CD, including Miss Spider’s Tea Party, Clifford the Big Red Dog and seven other Clifford titles. She also recorded the audiobook for Juror #3, a James Patterson Bookshot. She can also be heard on the souvenir album for the Finding Nemo attraction at Walt Disney World. In addition, she was heard in radio and television commercials for the New York Botanical Garden from 2012 through 2014.
Her many promotional television appearances range from morning fare like Today, The View, and Live With Regis and Kelly to the syndicated game show Pyramid, where as a celebrity player she helped her contestants win $20,000. She also expounded on pop culture in VH1’s I Love the 70s Part II, I Love the 80s 3-D, and I Love the Holidays.
On June 8, 2015, Stephanie launched Chimpy and Pansy, her very short, very ridiculous 9-episode stop-motion animated series, for which she was entirely responsible.
Stephanie has produced and edited several video compilation reels for the Jim Henson Legacy’s screening series and assisted in editing many presentations for the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, NY. She also co-produced and co-edited all of the exhibit reels in the new Henson wing at Atlanta’s Center for Puppetry Arts. In addition, she shot, wrote, produced, and edited video content and original music (and provided all of the vocals) for Below the Frame, a Facebook Live show broadcast from the Muppet Lounge at Sesame Street, and hosted by Matt Vogel.
A former Burger King Employee of the Month, Stephanie D’Abruzzo has spent more than half of her life residing in New York City with her husband of twenty-two years, Emmy-nominated producer and writer Craig Shemin.