Guests

2015 Guests and Attending Professionals

Guests:

Caroll Spinney

Caroll Spinney has performed Big Bird and Oscar on Sesame Street since the show's inception in 1969. Prior to that, he performed on Bozo's Big Top in Boston for ten years, was a commercial artist and animator, and served in the Air Force.

Some of the highlights of Caroll's career include: international appearances in China, Japan, Australia, and Europe; several visits to the White House; conducting orchestras across the US and Canada; starring in Follow that Bird; and winning four Emmys, two Grammys, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and the Library of Congress's Living Legend award.

Caroll lives with his wife, Debra, in New England. They have three children.

Leslie Carrara-Rudolph

Leslie Carrara-Rudolph is a multifaceted entertainer, artist, writer, voice actress, song writer, and puppeteer best known for her work on Sesame Street as Abby Cadabby (5 Emmy nominations) and a variety of other characters for Sesame Workshop. Film, TV, and animation credits include Forgetting Sarah Marshal, Muppets, Muppets Tonight, Johnny and the Sprites, Tough Puppy, Simpsons, Electric Company, and the voice match for Izma (Ertha Kit) for the Walt Disney company. Leslie tours the country doing her original live shows, workshops, and outreach. She has received two Jim Henson Foundation Grants and an UNIMA Citation of excellence for her musical Wake Up Your Weird. Leslie and her husband Paul Rudolph are currently producing a radio show style podcast for families called "Lolly's Radio Playdate" which features her band The Red Hot Lemonheads and special guests. Leslie also known for Lolly Lardpop and Granny Dot, two of her most beloved characters. Visit her at www.lesliecarrara-rudolph.com and www.lollysradioplaydate.com.

Steve Whitmire

As a core performer with the Muppets, Steve Whitmire's primary original characters include Rizzo the Rat, Lips the trumpet player, and Miss Piggy's dog Foo-Foo from The Muppet Show, Wembley Fraggle, Sprocket the Dog, Marlon Fraggle, and Flange Doozer from Fraggle Rock, Bean Bunny, Flash and Waldo C. Graphic from The Jim Henson Hour, Andy Pig and Mr. Poodlepants from Muppets Tonight, and Jake the Polar Bear from Jim Henson's Animal Show with Stinky and Jake, as well as dozens of other featured characters. Additionally, he performed Robbie and B.P. Richfield for the television series Dinosaurs.

Steve also performs Statler and Beaker, originally performed by Richard Hunt, and Link Hogthrob, The Muppet Newsman, and Kermit the Frog, originally performed by Jim Henson, as well as Sesame Street's Ernie after Henson'’s death until 2014.

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Whitmire remembers with particular affection a toy Rowlf the Dog from the Jimmy Dean days. He developed an early passion for the Muppets from watching Jim Henson's appearances on variety shows and Sesame Street, and was making his own puppets by the sixth grade. He began his first professional job as a puppeteer prior to graduating high school at an Atlanta theme park.

This initial job led to invaluable local television experience with his puppets. At a Southeastern Regional Puppetry Festival, Whitmire met Carroll Spinney (Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch from Sesame Street) who suggested he contact Henson Associates about an audition. At the age of 19, Whitmire auditioned for Jim Henson who decided to start him as a performer during the third season of The Muppet Show in 1978. Whitmire finished his first season on The Muppet Show, got married and headed to Hollywood to work on the first Muppet feature, all in the same month.

Whitmire has performed in nearly every Muppet production since, including numerous made-for-television Muppet movies and specials such as A Muppet Family Christmas, John Denver & The Muppets Rocky Mountain Holiday, The Christmas Toy, It's A Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie, The Muppets Wizard of Oz, Studio DC Almost Live, and Letters to Santa, to name a few. He has worked on several direct to home video releases including Muppet Classic Theater, and he played a ten year old Kermit the Frog for Kermit's Swamp Years. Television series credits include The Muppet Show, Fraggle Rock, The Jim Henson Hour, the ABC primetime series Dinosaurs, Jim Henson's Animal Show with Stinky and JakeSesame Street, and Muppets Tonight.

Whitmire's theatrical film credits include The Muppet Movie, The Great Muppet Caper, The Dark Crystal, The Muppets Take Manhattan, Dreamchild, The Witches, Labyrinth, The Muppet Christmas Carol, Muppet Treasure Island, Muppets From Space, Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, The Muppets, and Muppets Most Wanted. He has also worked on albums including The Playground with Tony Bennett, Muppet Beach Party, and Kermit Unpigged.

In addition to the mass of Muppet related production, Whitmire has also performed his Muppet characters world wide in hundreds of appearances from The Queens Jubilee: Party at the Palace and Royal Command Performances, to presidential inaugurations and commencement speeches at major colleges and universities. Even with a significant list of credits, Whitmire maintains that his favorite work is still the mostly improvised small appearances and interviews on variety and news programs.

For a comprehensive list of credits, check: http://muppet.wikia.com/wiki/Steve_Whitmire#Puppeteer_Credits

Pam Arciero

Pam Arciero is the Artistic Director of the National Puppetry Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center and a principal puppeteer with Sesame Street and Between the Lions, performing numerous characters, most notably Grundgetta Grouch and Leona Lion, respectively. Pam has worked on many adult and children's programs including Blue's Clues Blue's Room, Chappell's Show, Allegra's Window, The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss, TV Funhouse, Eureeka's Castle, and The Great Space Coaster. She has performed in commercials and films, including Fuze, Zappos, Swiftcover Insurance (UK), Sundance Myths, Sundance Film Festival, Extreme Measures, Little Monsters, and Follow That Bird. As a stage director, Pam directed Elmo's World Live, Oscar's Big Game Show, Gotta Dance, Big Bird's Beach Party, Count Down to Halloween, and A Sesame Christmas, for Sea World Orlando; Port Aventura, Spain; Beaches Resorts Jamaica; Turks and Caicos; and Sesame Place; Open Sesame (Sesame Street) for Saudi Arabia, and Disney's Wahoo Wagon at the El Capitan Theater in Los Angeles. She has directed the short film Whiskey Neat, and Between the Lions and Oobi for television. Pam has taught for the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts, the University of Hawaii, California State University, Fresno, Sesame Street International and the University of Connecticut. Pam is the secretary of the Board of Directors for the Henson Foundation. She holds an Undergraduate Degree in Theater from the University of Hawaii and a Master’s Degree in Puppetry from the University of Connecticut.

Tyler Bunch

Tyler has been working as a professional performer based in New York City for the last 22 years (living in Connecticut since 2000.) His career has seen him in regional theater, Off Broadway, the small screen, the silver screenm and now digital screens as puppeteer, actor/singer, and voice artist. His "big break" in the puppetry world was on the show Bear in the Big Blue House where he performed Treelo, Pop, and Doc Hogg. Mr.Bunch received an Emmy for his work as creative producer on the children's literacy program Word World and was nominated for a directing Emmy for another PBS program: It's A Big, Big World. Here are some career highlights:

• Rex and Randy's Room (local series in Tampa, FL)

• Cable Ace Award for Local Programming '92 and '93

Performed Rex, Set construction, Prop Assist

• Attended Muppet Workshops lead by Jane Henson '93

Sesame Street (PBS television series) '93 - 2004

Assistant Muppeteer

• Scenic carpenter for the Julliard School '94-'96

Bear in the Big, Blue House (Henson/Disney television series) '97 - 2001

Principal Muppeteer (Treelo, Pop, Doc Hogg)

Between the Lions (PBS television series) '98 - 2010

Puppeteer for first three seasons, VO artist only for later seasons

Muppets From Space (feature film) '99

Muppet Performer

The Book of Pooh (Disney television series) 2001 - 2003

CGI and puppet staging director

Principal puppeteer (Tigger)

OOBI (Nickelodeon/Noggin/Little Airplane) 2003 - 2007

Principal puppeteer (Grampu)

It's a Big, Big World (PBS series) 2005 - 2007

CGI and Puppet Staging Director

Principal Puppeteer (Winslow)

Director 7 episodes

Nominated for Daytime Emmy for Direction in a Children's Series 2006

Muppets Wizard of Oz (made for TV movie) 2005

Muppet Performer

Sesame Street (PBS series and home videos) 2005 - Present

Seasonal Contract Muppeteer

Sesame Beginnings (Home video series) 2006 - 2007

Principal Muppeteer (Baby Cookie Monster)

SeeMore's Playhouse (PBS series). 2006 - 2008

Director (4 episodes)

Puppet Up! Uncensored (TV special) 2006

Principal puppet performer (improvising ensemble)

Blue's Room (Nickelodeon series) 2006

Principal Puppet performer (Dress-Up Chest, Candle)

Word World (animated series PBS) 2007 - 2011

Puppet design and fabrication (pilot only)

Creative Producer

Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Children's Animated Program 2007

A Muppets Christmas: Letters To Santa (TV Movie) 2008

Principal Muppeteer (pigeon wife, Postal Snail)

The Electric Company (PBS Series) 2009 - 2011

Voice Over Artist (Jack Bowser, others)

Late Night Liars (Game Show Network series) 2010

Principal Puppeteer (Sir Sebastian Simian)

• Air New Zealand (worldwide ad campaign) 2010 - 2011

Principal puppeteer (Rico)

Writer and staging coordinator

The Muppets Kitchen with Cat Cora (Web Series for Disney) 2010-2011

Principal Muppeteer (Angelo the co-host)

The Muppets (feature film) 2011

Principal schedule F Muppeteer (Foozie, Thog, others)

Puppet Captain for second unit (puppet special effects consultant)

Abby's Flying Fairy School (PBS series) 2012 - 2013

Principal Voice Talent (Niblet, Gene the Genie, others)

Kidscreen Award for Voice Ensemble 2013

Muppets Most Wanted (feature film) 2014

Principal Muppeteer LA ensemble (The Bulls)

Over Tyler's 22 year career in the television and film industry he has been a part of countless other pilots, ad campaigns and smaller video projects as talent, director and consultant. For the last several years he has also been a member of the staff at the National Puppetry Conference at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center.

Cheryl Henson

Cheryl Henson serves on the Board of Directors for The Jim Henson Company. She is also the President of The Jim Henson Foundation, an organization promoting the art of puppetry in the United States through grants to artists and theater presenters.

As the President of The Jim Henson Foundation, Ms. Henson is an ardent advocate of contemporary puppetry. Since 1982, the Foundation has awarded over 700 grants to more than 300 American puppet artists for the creation and development of innovative new works. Ms. Henson oversees a competitive granting process to encourage the best in puppet theater. (Visit www.hensonfoundation.org for more on The Jim Henson Foundation.)

Ms. Henson executive produced the award winning biennial Henson International Festival of Puppet Theater from 1992 to 2000. These five festivals presented 136 different productions from 31 countries in 24 theaters throughout New York City. The Festival won both the Drama Desk and the OBIE Award, received coverage from prestigious sources including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Vanity Fair, CBS Sunday Morning, and National Public Radio, and is widely acknowledged as having changed the perception of puppet theater today. (For more on these festivals visit www.hensonfestival.org)

Ms. Henson served as a Vice President of The Jim Henson Company from 1992 until 2000. During this time she was the liaison between The Jim Henson Company and Children's Television Workshop (now Sesame Workshop), the producer of Sesame Street, working closely with production teams on Sesame Street shows both here and abroad. Ms. Henson believes in the power of puppets to educate as well as entertain; to transcend cultural differences and to communicate in a universal language. Having repurchased the company in 2003 with her siblings, Ms. Henson is excited to be back working with the New York branch of The Jim Henson Company where the renowned Sesame Street Muppets continue to be designed and built.

In 1994, Cheryl and the Muppet Workshop created a book to help children explore their imaginations by making puppets out of everyday objects. The Muppets Make Puppets, published by Workman Press, sold more than 100,000 copies.

Cheryl built puppets while in high school for The Muppet Show (1976-1979) and before college on The Dark Crystal (1982). After graduating from Yale (l984) with a degree in History, Cheryl continued to work on films and television specials as a puppet and mask maker. Her work is seen in the film Labyrinth (l986) and The Tale of the Bunny Picnic (1986). In l987, Cheryl earned a degree in textile design from the Fashion Institute of Technology and returned to Jim Henson's Creature Shop™ in London where she worked on the Storyteller and Mother Goose Stories. Later, she worked as an Art Director for Song of the Cloud Forest, a segment of The Jim Henson Hour, which was nominated for an Emmy and won a Monitor Award for Best Achievement in Entertainment Series.

Cheryl lives in New York City with her husband and their two children.

Karen Falk

Karen Falk is archives director at The Jim Henson Company and curator of The Jim Henson Legacy / Smithsonian traveling exhibition "Jim Henson’s Fantastic World." She is also the author of Imagination Illustrated. She lives in Bronxville, New York.

Steve Troop

Steve Troop started his career in 1996 as one of the first cartoonists to publish on the Internet. His online comic strip, "Melonpool" ran daily for ten years, but in 2005, he took a hiatus from the strip to focus his career on puppetry. He currently resides in Los Angeles, CA, is co-owner of Puppet Design Studios and works as a puppet designer, fabricator, and puppeteer.

Steve began building puppets of his characters to interact with fans at comic conventions. Starting mainly as a hobby, he eventually graduated to working professionally as an illustrator, designing and eventually building puppets for Trace Adkins' music video "Brown Chicken, Brown Cow," Glee, Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Ed Sheeran's 2014 Best Male Music Video of the Year "Sing" and Nike's "MVPuppets" commercials.

He most recently designed and built several costumes, puppets and props for the 2015 Hollywood Fringe Festival show, Alien vs. Musical, based on HR Giger's Alien designs from the 1979 classic film. He also co-wrote the show -- the story of everyone's favorite {and not so favorite) musical characters being killed off one-by-one by the Alien.

Steve still updates "Melonpool" daily at melonpool.com , having rebooted the strip in late 2014. The Melonpool puppets have also appeared on Kevin Smith's website quickstopentertainment.com (now asitecalledfred.com ) and (uncredited) in Comic Book: The Movie starring Mark Hamill and Billy West.

As an artist, he also has worked as an animator on the early FOX animated series, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes and more recently as a storyboard artist on an as-yet-unreleased animated feature film.

His professional puppeteering credits include Glee and Teen Titans: Go! as well as several web-based greeting cards for American Greetings. He's also working on a feature-length film, Melonpool: The Motion Picture.

BJ Guyer

BJ Guyer is the co-owner of Puppet Design Studio in Los Angeles, CA and has been working professionally as a puppet designer, fabricator, puppeteer, and producer in the live entertainment, television, and motion picture industries for the last 25 years. He is also a Master instructor for the Stan Winston School of Character Arts in puppet design and construction.

He is most notably known as a producer, puppeteer, and puppet builder for Comedy Central's Crank Yankers which ran for 5 seasons and ultimately led to his move from New York to Los Angeles. He built, voiced, and puppeteered the Character of "Jabby" opposite Robert DeNiro on the feature film Grudge Match and has appeared as a puppeteer on other notable films like Muppets From Space, Team America, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, The Muppets, and the currently in production Yamasong: March of the Hollows. Along with Crank Yankers, his television puppetry has been seen on Disney Channel's The Book of Pooh, Elmo videos and Holiday videos for Sesame Street, Between the Lions for PBS, the MAD Magazine Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Chowder, Saul of the Mole Men, and Glee which also featured an entire cast of puppets designed and built by his company. He has also worked closely with Warner Brothers Animation to develop puppet versions of Hanna Barbera characters like A Pup named Scooby Doo, Captain Caveman, Ricochet Rabbit, and Deputy Droopalong.

He has worked freelance with many of the other FX shops in Los Angeles as well including: Legacy Effects, the Jim Henson Creature Shop, Chiodo Brothers, and The Character Shop building everything from full size dinosaurs, talking Tostitos bags, and celebrity character likenesses to very recognizable original characters like Bob Newhart's sidekick "Gino Neutrino" from Big Bang Theory and "Lil Dez" from Nike's Most Valuable Puppet campaign.

BJ's puppetry and characters have also made their mark on the music industry appearing on a World Tour with Beck and music videos with artists like Eminem, Trace Adkins, Toby Keith, Katy Perry, Islands,
Snoop Dogg and Dam Funk, and Ed Sheeran's 2014 Best Male Music Video of the Year "Sing".

His commercial credits include clients like: Toyota, Nike, LG, General Mills, Disney, Sprint, State Farm, Tostitos, Benjamin Moore, Carfax, Denny's, Burger King, Grocery Outlet, Slim Jim, Boost Mobile, Norton Antivirus, and Delta Air Lines.

Debbie McClellan

Debbie McClellan is Vice President of The Muppets Studio. In addition to aiding and abetting the antics of one legendary frog, a pig who has a wardrobe that blows away most A-list celebrities and supermodels alike, chickens, penguins and other zany and beloved characters, she oversees production, talent relations, and serves as creative lead for the Muppet brand at The Walt Disney Company (TWDC). In addition, McClellan supervises production on all Muppet related content in film, television, in-home entertainment, online, marketing/publicity, promotions and music initiatives.Under her guidance, the Muppets have made appearances on many high-profile shows such as Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Good Morning America, The View, Dancing with the Stars, and The Voice to name just a few. In 2011, the Muppets reunited in the feature film, The Muppets, one of the year's best-reviewed films and returned to the big screen in Muppets Most Wanted which was released March 2014.

Prior to this role, McClellan was Director of The Muppets Studio for TWDC, where she was instrumental in launching dozens of viral videos with a total of over 52M hits worldwide, including the multiple Webby Award-winning "Muppets' Bohemian Rhapsody" parody video.

Preceding Disney, McClellan served as Vice President of Corporate Communications and Publicity for The Jim Henson Company. She remains the liaison between The Jim Henson Company, the Henson family, The Jim Henson Legacy, and TWDC to this day.

McClellan received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Broadcast Journalism from the University of Southern California. She resides in Marina del Rey, CA.

Attending Professionals:
The Sci-Fi Janitors

The two little guys who started it all, Bob and Carl are Dragon Con's little yellow puppet ambassadors. You can catch their geeky antics on DCTV. Once again they will be your hosts for an incredible 5th year of The Late Night Puppet Slam bringing you the very best in geeky adult puppet shows to the biggest puppet slam in the world!

Stacey Gordon

Stacey Gordon is an improviser and puppeteer in Phoenix, Arizona, where she's been building puppets, teaching, and performing in Puppet Slams since 2001. Stacey co-directs & puppeteers for The Bob & Angus Show, a web-series produced for Mayfair Games. Her puppets have been featured in music videos, commercials, and on ABC's The View.

Kathleen O'Shea David
Kathleen O'Shea David started working with puppets when she was 2 and over 40 years later she is still "wiggling dolls" for fun and profit. Along the way she picked up a quite few more skills and careers. She has done just about everything from cancer research to rock and roll. Some of her favorite jobs have been in puppetry, theater, and publishing. With her husband Peter David, she adapted the first four issues of the Japanese Manga Negima. She is a published writer with a Doctor Who story in the Big Finish anthology Short Trips: Qualities of Leadership among others. She worked on Star Wars: The New Jedi Order with Shelly Shapiro. She has had a number of short stories in published in various anthologies. Her costumes have won awards at various science fiction conventions both for performance and workmanship. She has also created costumes for film and stage. She is a former employee of the Center for Puppetry Arts here in Atlanta. Her puppets are in collections all over the world. She created the series Headcases with her husband. Her work can be found in the Dragon Con Art Show and on the Dragon Con Puppet Slam stage.
Madison J Cripps
A professional puppeteer since 2006, Madison J, Cripps brings his unique hand-carved wooden marionettes to life with song, improvised interaction, and puns.
Matthew Laird
Matthew Robert C. Laird is a designer, fabricator, and puppeteer who works as the assistant supervisor of the Fabrication and Finishing shop at Animax Designs.
Mike Horner


Mike Horner is a professional puppeteer and puppet builder who created of Timey Wimey Puppet Show, a Doctor Who–themed puppet parody. He is associate artistic director with the Mesner Puppet Theater in Kansas City