News Column

Dancer gets into groove of Grover

November 29, 2013

YellowBrix

Nov. 29--Jason Stump has stamped, stomped and tapped his way from his hometown in Westchester, Penn., to perhaps the most famous street in America -- Sesame Street.

Stump is one of the performers in Sesame Street Live's "Can't Stop Singing," which is headed to Kay Yeager Coliseum for two shows, at 10:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Kay Yeager Coliseum.

He brings to life the excitable and lovable Grover -- aka Super Grover when he's feeling especially imaginative -- though he also has played Rosita.

The story follows the monsters of Sesame Street as it is transformed into an all-singing, all-dancing musical montage after Elmo gets his hands on Abby Cadabby's magic wand.

Stump said the most challenging part of the job for him in playing such an iconic children's character as Grover is conveying emotion to the audience and really giving that spark -- that Grover spirit -- to the blue monster.

"At first it was learning how to get a costume like that to express emotion ... I just spent a lot of time in front of the mirror," he said, adding that an actor's best asset is his face and the expressions that convey a character's feelings. "You don't have a face to work with (in the Elmo costume)."

Stump said he was destined to become a performer.

"I was 8 years old when I saw one of the first big shows, and that was 'Annie' ... I've been literally doing it ever since. I was a musical theater major (at Westchester University)."

Stump has performed mainly in musical theater in such shows as "White Christmas" at the Walnut St. Theatre in Philadelphia, "Gypsy" at the Bristol Riverside Theatre in Bristol, Penn., and "Just Rock & Win" for Carnival Cruise Line, to name a few.

In many of the productions he has been in, he's a dancer.

"Of all the performing arts, tap dance is my specialty. It's my passion, my love" -- so much so that when Stump is not on the road, he goes back home to Pennsylvania and continues to work in dance.

"I do teach a lot of tap dance whenever I'm home," he said. "The owner of a local dance studio has been very generous ... I'll schedule tap classes when I'm home."

Stump starred as a dancer in "Tap: The Show" for Matt Davenport Productions in Hershey, Penn.

Grover definitely does a lot of dancing in "Can't Stop Singing."

"My favorite character ... always was Grover. I love how Grover comes from a 4-year-old mindset. He experiences adult problems, but he does so as a 4-year-old."

He said what keeps him going as a performer is seeing the reactions of children who just love the Sesame Street characters so much.

"Whenever you go to a preshow party ... It's very heartwarming -- kids just giving you a high-five or something."

He said he also loves the traveling.

"I wouldn't be able to have gotten to see so much of this country," he said, without Sesame Street Live!

"Can't Stop Singing" is one of the biggest "Sesame Street Live" shows, Stump said, and it's full of great songs.

"In this show, the Cookie Monster sings a parody of 'It's Raining Men' called 'It's Raining Cookies.' So it's always a good time."

And it will be a good time for not just children but adults, too.

"They're not going to be bored," Stump said. "It's relatable to all age groups, and there's just some really good music."

IF YOU GO

What: "Sesame Street Live: Can't Stop Singing"

Where: Kay Yeager Coliseum, 1000 Fifth St.

When: 10:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Wednesday

Tickets: $15 to $50

Information: 716-5555 or wfmpec.com

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(c)2013 the Times Record News (Wichita Fallas, Texas)

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