Renowned Puppeteer Stephanie D'Abruzzo Returns to Campus

The Northwestern alumni list is impressive to say the least. The University has been home to all kinds of creators, thinkers, and impactors. One of these alums is Stephanie D’Abruzzo. D’Abruzzo is a talented singer, actor, and puppeteer, most well known for her two roles in the Broadway musical Avenue Q and her continued work on children’s shows, including Sesame Street.

She returned to campus for a few days at the end of February and took time out of her schedule to host two firesides at her beloved Communications Residential College (CRC). D’Abruzzo lived in CRC all four of her years at Northwestern. “That’d be weird now,” she said with a laugh, “but I promise that at the time it wasn’t!”

At her February 23 fireside, she shared some of her accomplishments with CRC residents and answered any questions they had for her. She even played recordings of some of her first puppeteer projects, which were filmed with her CRC friends right in the building.

“CRC was that safe, supportive space where we would screen these bad videos or perform in these bad bands or host these silly radio shows to nothing but love and cheers,” D’Abruzzo said via email. She said that it provided a space that showed her “how important it it was to take chances and feel free to fail.”

Not all of her CRC work was a “failure,” though. She won a National College Emmy award for comedy for her puppet show, Freeform, which she screened at the fireside.

“It was really cool seeing the other works she developed and seeing where she started,” sophomore RTVF major Lauren Crittenden said, “especially with the parts that were shot in CRC and Kresge. As someone that also wants to break into film, it was really inspiring to see her determination and just know that it can be done.”

During the fireside, Crittenden realized that D’Abruzzo once lived in the room that she now occupies in CRC. “It’s so cool knowing the history of my room,” Crittenden said. “I loved her in Avenue Q, so it’s really cool to know that [the creator of] Kate Monster lived in my room!”

D’Abruzzo said that CRC residents past and present all share a special bond because of the odd traditions the residence hall honors. Even though she thinks that current students may not collaborate on works like they did when she lived there, “I am heartened by the fact that there is still a Radiothon, and that traditions like Panquakes are living on,” she said.

“My Northwestern experience gave me the freedom to figure out who I was and who I wanted to be, the inspiration to chart the course of the rest of my life, and the support system to help me explore my options as an undergrad,” she said.

D’Abruzzo is currently filming her 24th season on Sesame Street and living in New York City with her husband Craig, who also attended Northwestern and lived in CRC.