Stephanie D'Abruzzo

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Stephanie D'Abruzzo
Stephanie Ann D'Abruzzo

(1971-12-07) December 7, 1971 (age 47)
OccupationActress, voice actress, singer, puppeteer
Years active1989–present
Craig Shemin (m. 1995)

Stephanie Ann D'Abruzzo Shemin (born December 7, 1971)[1] is an American voice actress, singer, and puppeteer.

Early life[edit]

D'Abruzzo grew up in McMurray, Pennsylvania, a Pittsburgh suburb she has described as a "plastic bubble kind of town."[3] 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.[4]

D'Abruzzo is a 1993 graduate of the Radio/Television/Film program at Northwestern University.[5] [6] A resident of 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."[7] [4] D'Abruzzo's production of a puppet television show called Freeform won the National College Emmy award for comedy.[8]

D'Abruzzo's other standout 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.[6]


D'Abruzzo has spent most 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.[9] 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, [10] and the Outer Critics Circle Special Ensemble Award.

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).

D'Abruzzo has performed in developmental readings of Avenue Q, I Love You Because, Oh, What a Lovely War! (2005),[15] 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),[16] Children and Art: Stephen Sondheim's 75th Birthday Gala (2005),[17] and Stephen Sondheim's 75th: The Concert (at the Hollywood Bowl, 2005).[18]

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 new musical production performed several times each day at Disney's Animal Kingdom. She is also one of the performers included in the documentary Showbusiness: The Road to Broadway, which chronicles the 2003-2004 Broadway season.

In May 2005, D'Abruzzo made her solo cabaret debut at the New York City jazz club Birdland.[19]


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".[20]

Her other puppeteering and voice work includes appearances in Oobi (2008),[21] Pinky Dinky Doo, Sheep in the Big City, The Book of Pooh (2001),[21] The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss (1997),[21] and Jack's Big Music Show, along with various commercials and promos. She guest starred in a musical episode of Scrubs titled "My Musical", [21] 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. The episode aired on January 18, 2007 and was nominated for five Emmy Awards. She later appeared in a cameo in episode "My Finale", as series protagonist J.D. leaves Sacred Heart for the final time.[22][23]

D'Abruzzo performed Prairie Dawn on Sesame Street season 46, following the retirement of Prairie Dawn's original performer, Fran Brill in 2015.[21]

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").[24]

Personal life[edit]

She is married to Craig Shemin, a writer and producer and board member of the Jim Henson Legacy. They married on September 17, 1995[2] and live in New York City.[6]



  1. ^ a b "Kate Monster interviews Stephanie". Archived from the original on 2007-03-14. Retrieved 2007-03-29.
  2. ^ a b "Stephanie D'Abruzzo, Craig (sic) Shemin" The New York Times, September 17, 1995
  3. ^ "Stephanie D'Abruzzo". 2004-03-24. Retrieved 2007-09-11.
  4. ^ a b Owen, Rob. "Q&A with Stephanie D'Abruzzo" Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, January 14, 2007
  5. ^ "Northwestern alumna and Sesame Street Master Puppeteer Breathes Life into Art", March 2, 2017
  6. ^ a b c "From Sesame Street to Broadway". Northwestern Magazine. Retrieved 2007-03-29.
  7. ^ "Ask a Star: Stephanie D'Abruzzo". 2005-08-17. Retrieved 2007-09-12.
  8. ^ "Northwestern grad's student project proved avenue to Broadway". WLS-TV. 2005-11-08. Retrieved 2007-09-11.
  9. ^ Gans, Andrew. "DIVA TALK: A Chat with Avenue Q's Stephanie D'Abruzzo Plus News of Egan, Holliday and MORE" Playbill, September 26, 2003
  10. ^ "Stephanie D'Abruzzo Credits, Awards" Playbill Vault, retrieved September 3, 2018
  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. ^ " Oh, What a Lovely War! Workshop", retrieved September 3, 2018
  16. ^ " Chess Actors Fund", retrieved September 3, 2018
  17. ^ Children and Art, retrieved September 3, 2018
  18. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Burnett, Cook, Peters, McDonald, Stritch and More Salute Sondheim July 8 at Hollywood Bowl" Playbill, July 8, 2005
  19. ^ "Stephanie D'Abruzzo Makes Cabaret Debut May 23 at Birdland". Retrieved 2007-09-11.
  20. ^ "Stars on the Street - Celebrity Guests Rub Shoulders With Big Bird and Friends". Archived from the original on November 3, 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-29.
  21. ^ a b c d e f "D'Abruzzio TV Credits", retrieved September 3, 2018
  22. ^ "Scrubbing Up". TheatreMania. 2007-01-03. Retrieved 2007-03-29.
  23. ^ "DIVA TALK: Chatting with Stephanie D'Abruzzo Plus Spring Awakening on CD". 2007-01-12. Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2007-03-29.
  24. ^ Watkins, Gwynne."How Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’s Puppeteer Made a Talking Backpack So Emotional" Vulture, June 12, 2018
  25. ^ a b "D'Abruzzo Filmography", retrieved September 3, 2018
  26. ^ The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss, retrieved September 3, 2018

External links[edit]

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