Stephanie D'Abruzzo

Stephanie Ann D'Abruzzo Shemin (born December 7, 1971) is an American actress, voice actress, singer, and puppeteer. She has performed various Muppets in the TV program Sesame Street. She held starring roles on Oobi and The Book of Pooh. She was one of the original cast members of the stage musical Avenue Q, receiving a nomination for the 2004 Best Actress in a Musical.

Stephanie D'Abruzzo
Stephanie Ann D'Abruzzo

(1971-12-07) December 7, 1971 (age 48)
OccupationActress, voice actress, singer, puppeteer
Years active1990–present
Craig Shemin (m. 1995)

Early lifeEdit

D'Abruzzo was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on December 7, 1971,[1] and grew up in McMurray, a Pittsburgh suburb she has described as a "plastic bubble kind of town."[2] She graduated from Peters Township High School in 1989 and attended the Pennsylvania Governor's School for the Arts, a summer program for gifted high school students.[3]

D'Abruzzo is a 1993 graduate of the Radio/Television/Film program at Northwestern University.[4][5] At the university's Communications Residential College (CRC), she could often be caught watching (and, as it turns out, studying) Sesame Street. She had a large collection of Muppet recordings, which she compiled into a mixtape that she auctioned off for dorm fundraisers.[citation needed]

Eventually, D'Abruzzo began to consider puppetry as a career, in part as a solution to finding acting roles after she "gained more than the Freshman 15 and [got] a bad perm."[6][3] D'Abruzzo's production of a puppet television show called Freeform won the National College Emmy award for comedy.[7]

D'Abruzzo's other roles at Northwestern included Mildred in the short film The Ballad of Hank and Mildred and as herself in The Glance. While in college, she also performed with a campus improvisational comedy troupe.[5]


D'Abruzzo has spent much of her career performing as a puppeteer in children's television, but she is known for originating the roles of single schoolteacher Kate Monster and sultry chanteuse Lucy the Slut in 2003 in the Broadway musical Avenue Q.[8] She garnered acclaim for her performance of the dual role, including a nomination for the 2004 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical, a Drama Desk nomination, the Theatre World Award,[9] and the 2003-2004 Outer Critics Circle Special Ensemble Award.[10]

Other stage credits include I Love You Because (Off-Broadway) (2006),[11] If You Give A Mouse A Cookie (Off-Broadway, TheaterworksUSA, 2006),[12] Carnival (for City Center Encores!, 2002),[13] Kiss and Makeup (New York City Fringe Festival, 2007),[14] and Austentatious (New York Musical Theatre Festival) in 2007.[15]

D'Abruzzo has performed in developmental readings of Avenue Q, I Love You Because, Oh, What a Lovely War! (2005),[16] The $trip, The Medium at Large, and The Green Room. She has also been featured in several concerts and benefits, including Skitch Henderson's New Faces of 2004 at Carnegie Hall, Encores! 10th Anniversary Bash, Chess (for the Actors' Fund, 2003),[17] Children and Art: Stephen Sondheim's 75th Birthday Gala (2005),[18] and Stephen Sondheim's 75th: The Concert (at the Hollywood Bowl, 2005).[19]

D'Abruzzo appears on the original cast recordings of Avenue Q and I Love You Because and performs the parts of "Sheldon" and "Deb" on the studio recording of Finding Nemo – The Musical, a musical production performed several times each day at Disney's Animal Kingdom.[20]

She is one of the performers included in the documentary ShowBusiness: The Road to Broadway (2007), which chronicles the 2003-2004 Broadway season.[21]

In May 2005, D'Abruzzo made her solo cabaret debut at the New York City jazz club Birdland.[22]


Since 1993, D'Abruzzo has performed as various Muppets in Sesame Street, including a notable performance singing with R.E.M. in a new version of their song "Shiny Happy People" called "Furry Happy Monsters".[23] From 2000 to 2005, she appeared as Uma and Inka on the Nickelodeon series Oobi.[24] D'Abruzzo worked on Oobi along with her husband, Craig Shemin, who was part of the show's writing staff.

Her other puppeteering and voice work includes appearances in Pinky Dinky Doo, Sheep in the Big City, The Book of Pooh,[25] The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss (1997),[25] and Jack's Big Music Show, along with various commercials and promos. She guest starred in a musical episode of Scrubs titled "My Musical",[25] as a patient with a mysterious ailment that caused her to interpret speech as Broadway-esque song and dance numbers. She sang in five of the nine songs. Four of the episode's songs were co-written by Avenue Q composers Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx. She later appeared in a cameo in episode "My Finale", as series protagonist J.D. leaves Sacred Heart for the final time.[26][27]

D'Abruzzo performed Prairie Dawn on Sesame Street season 46, following the retirement of Prairie Dawn's original performer, Fran Brill, in 2015.[25]

D’Abruzzo voiced Kimmy’s long lost backpack, Jan S. Port, in Season 4, episode 6 of the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt ("Kimmy Meets an Old Friend").[28]

Personal lifeEdit

She is married to Craig Shemin, a writer and producer and board member of the Jim Henson Legacy. They married on September 17, 1995[29] and live in New York City.[5][1]



  1. ^ a b "Kate Monster interviews Stephanie". Archived from the original on March 14, 2007. Retrieved March 29, 2007.
  2. ^ "Stephanie D'Abruzzo". March 24, 2004. Retrieved September 11, 2007.
  3. ^ a b Owen, Rob. "Q&A with Stephanie D'Abruzzo" Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, January 14, 2007
  4. ^ "Northwestern alumna and Sesame Street Master Puppeteer Breathes Life into Art", March 2, 2017
  5. ^ a b c "From Sesame Street to Broadway". Northwestern Magazine. Retrieved March 29, 2007.
  6. ^ "Ask a Star: Stephanie D'Abruzzo". August 17, 2005. Retrieved September 12, 2007.
  7. ^ "Northwestern grad's student project proved avenue to Broadway". WLS-TV. November 8, 2005. Retrieved September 11, 2007.
  8. ^ Gans, Andrew. "DIVA TALK: A Chat with Avenue Q's Stephanie D'Abruzzo Plus News of Egan, Holliday and MORE" Playbill, September 26, 2003
  9. ^ "Stephanie D'Abruzzo Credits, Awards" Playbill Vault, retrieved September 3, 2018
  10. ^ "Awards 2003-2004", retrieved JUne 8, 2019
  11. ^ Wilson, Gregory. "A CurtainUp Review. 'I Love You Because'", February 13, 2006
  12. ^ Suskin, Steven. " 'If You Give a Mouse a Cookie & Other Story Books' " Variety, July 21, 2006
  13. ^ Carnival!, retrieved September 3, 2018
  14. ^ Gans, Andrew. " Kiss and Makeup, with D'Abruzzo, Jenkins and Sabella-Mills, Begins Fringe Run Aug. 20" Playbill, August 20, 2007
  15. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "D'Abruzzo to Take Part in 'Austentatious' For New York Musical Theatre Festival" Playbill, August 7, 2007
  16. ^ " Oh, What a Lovely War! Workshop", retrieved September 3, 2018
  17. ^ " Chess Actors Fund", retrieved September 3, 2018
  18. ^ Children and Art, retrieved September 3, 2018
  19. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Burnett, Cook, Peters, McDonald, Stritch and More Salute Sondheim July 8 at Hollywood Bowl" Playbill, July 8, 2005
  20. ^ Finding Nemo the Musical, retrieved April 26, 2019
  21. ^ " 'Showbusiness: The Road to Broadway' Cast and Crew", retrieved April 26, 2019
  22. ^ "Stephanie D'Abruzzo Makes Cabaret Debut May 23 at Birdland". Retrieved September 11, 2007.
  23. ^ "Stars on the Street - Celebrity Guests Rub Shoulders With Big Bird and Friends". Archived from the original on November 3, 2007. Retrieved March 29, 2007.
  24. ^ Gans, Andrew (September 26, 2003). "Diva Talk: A Chat with Avenue Q's Stephanie D'Abruzzo". Playbill. New York, NY: TotalTheater. Archived from the original on October 5, 2011. Retrieved March 12, 2012.
  25. ^ a b c d e "D'Abruzzio TV Credits", retrieved September 3, 2018
  26. ^ "Scrubbing Up". TheatreMania. January 3, 2007. Retrieved March 29, 2007.
  27. ^ "DIVA TALK: Chatting with Stephanie D'Abruzzo Plus Spring Awakening on CD". January 12, 2007. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved March 29, 2007.
  28. ^ Watkins, Gwynne."How Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’s Puppeteer Made a Talking Backpack So Emotional" Vulture, June 12, 2018
  29. ^ "Stephanie D'Abruzzo, Craig (sic) Shemin" The New York Times, September 17, 1995
  30. ^ a b "D'Abruzzo Filmography", retrieved September 3, 2018
  31. ^ The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss, retrieved September 3, 2018
  32. ^ Lipp, Chaz (February 15, 2014). "DVD Review: Scooby-Doo! Adventures: The Mystery Map". The Morton Report. Retrieved June 8, 2019.

External linksEdit

Preceded by
Fran Brill
Performer of Prairie Dawn
2016 – present
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Curly Bear
2003 - present
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Fran Brill
Performer of Mrs. Crustworthy
2016 – present
Succeeded by