Lara MacLean grooms and preps beloved puppets like Oscar the Grouch, Elmo and Rosita
Lara MacLean is living her childhood dream.
She works at Sesame Street.
As a puppet wrangler, MacLean assists the puppeteers who bring beloved characters like Oscar the Grouch, Elmo and Rosita to life. She reads and discusses scripts with the team to make sure she has the puppets and props they need, and then watches as they film scenes, stepping in if fur needs to be smoothed out. If something rips, MacLean might sew it up.
“I’m making sure that everything on the screen is what you want to see when you’re home watching it,” she says.
She goes by Lars, a name that stuck after a stage manager couldn’t pronounce “Lara” the way she liked it, and got the job after hustling through two college internships with the Jim Henson Company and a job sorting Big Bird feathers at Henson’s Creature Shop.
She picked up other skills from an early age that made her uncannily qualified for this. Growing up in South Jersey, she and her grandmother made fake food together — really — and that’s also something she does for work: Cookie Monster used to eat cookies made from spray-painted rice cakes. Now he eats cookies MacLean bakes herself from a recipe she concocted that crumble without ingredients like butter that could damage his blue fur.
Among her wide-ranging responsibilities are occasionally accompanying Big Bird and his puppeteer to out-of-town appearances. She also knows how to build wire skeletons for puppets so they can be placed in different positions without a puppeteer, and move them via remote control, which she’s done freelancing for Amazon’s show “The Tick” (she controls the Tick’s antennae).
She voices puppets for fun, and one of her favorite things to do is step in as a puppeteer.
“It’s the best time ever,” she says.
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