Sesame Street Live’s Elmo in’s Five-Minute Time Out.

You’ve plunked down approximately $692 for tickets to see the latest Sesame Street Live show. Your kid is huffing soda and cotton candy like a junkie on a bender. And you’re wondering what exactly you’ve gotten yourself into. Did you also ever wonder who’s behind all those fuzzy, foamy suits? Ever wonder what really happens backstage when the costumes come off? Elizabeth Osborn knows. For the past two years, she’s been on the road with the Vee Corporation, which has been producing kiddie shows since 1980. Audience members for each tour number in the millions. 

Osborn, twenty-four, started her kid’s career in 2005 when she played Bedtime Bear in Care Bears Live: Caring and Sharing Friends. She then went on to portray Spike the Dragon in My Little Pony Live!: The World’s Biggest Tea Party. Now she’s wearing the fuzzy red suit as Elmo in Sesame Street Live‘s Elmo Makes Music, which runs into the summer. Even though the schedule sounds grueling – she visits about fifty cities for each tour – Osborn says she hopes to sign up for another tour when this one ends. Babble caught up with her by phone during the show’s stop in New Orleans. – Jennifer V. Hughes

How totally insane is it to play Elmo? I mean, he’s like Jesus to preschoolers.

[Laughs] Every single show, when I come on there is just this freak-out throughout the entire audience, which is a little bit weird for me. Inside it’s just me and I’m not that great. We have this part where everyone is invited to sing along and to hear a whole arena of people singing back at you – it’s like, “This is what it’s like to be a rock star.” It’s so much fun to be able to do that for a bunch of little kids.

Did you ever imagine that this is what you’d be doing?

No. I don’t think anyone thinks they are going to be doing this kind of thing – everyone has big dreams of moving to New York and being amazing. I always thought of myself as a dancer so I think this is perfect for me. I don’t have to speak or sing – I can just dance.

It must be hard in those costumes.

Oh yeah – it is its own beast. What we do is we learn the show as people in a dance studio and then you add the costume parts slowly. You just add feet, and then the head and then the whole costume, and you have to retrain your body how to move in its new body.

That sounds like a heck of a workout.

Luckily for me, Elmo is a pretty small costume. I played a dragon and a Care Bear which are both basically fat suits, which are huge. You have to learn how to move so that the character is moving too. Even when you are moving inside, it doesn’t mean that the character is doing what you think it’s doing.