Not too long ago, Brandyn Dyke was on the other side of the stage, marveling at how his favorite television characters had seemingly come to life. Now, it's his job to make the imaginary become real.
At age 19, Dyke is one of the youngest cast members of Sesame Street Live. He'll be playing Oscar the Grouch and Cookie Monster in the production of "Elmo's Super Heroes" June 19-20 in Savannah.
The show itself is a fairly straight-forward tale of Elmo, Big Bird and the rest of the crew helping Super Grover get his "super" back after a bit of a bad spell. Lessons are learned on healthy eating and exercise, but, perhaps more importantly, it's a chance for kids to see what previously were images on a screen come to life in front of them.
"It's learning but presented in a way that's entertaining," Dyke said from the road in Georgia. "It can be a great experience for them. The whole tour, it's been an amazing experience for me, too."
Dyke originally is from Newport News, Va., and grew up in awe of amusement parks. In high school, he got a job as a ride operator at Busch Gardens. Then, he auditioned for a role as a costumed character and landed in a Sesame Street show.
"I always loved the parks," he said. "It was my dream to work there. The (Sesame Street show) turned out to be great."
He auditioned for Sesame Street Live and surprised himself by getting accepted. He travels the country, performing most nights of the week. Like the rest of the cast, he isn't the one singing or talking. The dialogue and songs are pre-recorded. So the cast must be able to express through movement, which he says isn't too difficult despite the limits of wearing a suit and trying to dance. He's been with the production for about a year plans to return to college sometime soon to major in dance.
One of his favorite parts of the show is getting to interact with the kids. The performers come out into the audience to dance along with their fans. Wide-eyed children get a chance to meet the characters that feel more like friends than fiction.
"It's so rewarding," he said. "They see their favorite characters in person. It's great to see them so happy."