D’Abruzzo as Uma in Oobi in 2004
|Born||(1971-12-07) December 7, 1971
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Occupation||Actress, voice actress, singer, puppeteer|
|Spouse(s)||Craig Shemin (m. 2000)|
D’Abruzzo grew up in McMurray, Pennsylvania, a Pittsburgh suburb she has described as a “plastic bubble kind of town.” She graduated from Peters Township High School, where she was active in the theater program, and attended the Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Arts, a summer program for gifted high school students.
D’Abruzzo is a 1993 graduate of the Radio/Television/Film program at Northwestern University. A resident of the university’s Communications Residential College (CRC), D’Abruzzo could often be caught watching (and, as it turns out, studying) Sesame Street. She also had a large collection of Muppet recordings, which she compiled into a mixtape that she auctioned off for dorm fundraisers.
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.” D’Abruzzo’s production of a puppet television show called Freeform (directed by Elizabeth Kirkscey) won the National College Emmy award for comedy.
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.
Though D’Abruzzo has spent most of her career performing as a puppeteer in children’s television, she is best known for originating the roles of single schoolteacher Kate Monster and sultry chanteuse Lucy the Slut in the Broadway musical Avenue Q. D’Abruzzo earned widespread 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, and the Outer Critics Circle Special Ensemble Award.
Her other stage credits include I Love You Because (off-Broadway), If You Give A Mouse A Cookie (TheaterworksUSA), Carnival (for City Center Encores!), Kiss and Makeup (New York City Fringe Festival), and Austentatious (New York Musical Theatre Festival).
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), Children and Art: Stephen Sondheim’s 75th Birthday Gala, and Stephen Sondheim’s 75th: The Concert (at the Hollywood Bowl).
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.
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”.
Her other puppeteering and voice work includes appearances in Oobi, Sheep in the Big City, The Book of Pooh, The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss, and Jack’s Big Music Show, along with various commercials and promos. She currently has been added to the large celebrity cast and is one of the only two Broadway actors on VH1‘s I Love the… series (along with Stephen Lynch from the musical The Wedding Singer).
D’Abruzzo guest starred in a musical episode of Scrubs titled “My Musical“, 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, on the NBC network and was nominated for five Emmy Awards. She appeared in a cameo in episode “My Finale“, as series protagonist J.D. leaves Sacred Heart for the final time.
D’Abruzzo confirmed on her official website that for Sesame Street season 46, she will be performing Prairie Dawn, following the retirement of Prairie Dawn’s original performer, Fran Brill on October 2, 2014.
She performed the character Peri in Julie’s Greenroom.