The answer to the question: ’Is it hot in there?’

Friday, December 12, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 1:33 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 4, 2008

At Sesame Street Live, everyone has a role to play, but that doesn’t always mean there’s a furry suit involved.

Less than 15 minutes after a seven-hour bus trip from Jonesboro, Ark., Caitlin McIntosh and Heather Shankweiler were sitting in their hotel lobby fulfilling one of those roles: media spokesperson. It’s a job neither of them minds.

“It didn’t come as a surprise. How else are we going to promote the show?” McIntosh said. But there have been some moments when it seems a little much.

“They always want to know ‘Is it difficult living out of suitcases?’” McIntosh said.

“They know we travel, they know we tour,” McIntosh said. “Either you get used to it or you don’t.”

Shankweiler agrees. “That’s it, really,” she said. “Of course you do get ready so much faster. You only have three outfits to choose from.”

“You get people trying to get you to tell if Rosita and Grover are dating,” McIntosh said. “I mean, hey, they’re 3 and 4 years old.”

Both admit some shock jocks looking for a cheap joke are so bad that show promoters won’t take performers to certain disc jockey’s radio stations anymore.

The question they always get asked: “So,” McIntosh and Shankweiler said at the same time, “are the costumes hot?”

No answer is necessary, and they both roll their eyes and laugh.

Despite all the questions both of them have been asked, no one ever seems to ask them the questions they’d like most to answer.

“They never ask how has your life changed since you’ve been on the road,” McIntosh said. “We weren’t always travelers.”

Shankweiler nods her head and smiles. “All your friends at home think you should be happy all the time because you’re doing what you like,” she said. “But like a normal person at home you have your normal frustrations.”

Such as working long, hard hours. Some days include three shows, and then there’s the dreaded “six pack”: six shows in two days. In Mexico City last month, the cast did 32 shows in three weeks. It was worse for the crew; when performers were off, they were often setting up or tearing down the show.

McIntosh laughs and says, “People think life on the road is a vacation. That’s so far from the truth.”

And with that, the two performers wanted to go unwind after a long bus ride in their past and five shows in their immediate future.

But there is one thing left for Shankweiler.

The question she wants a reporter to ask: “Are you happy?”

“I feel very lucky with this job,” she said. “You meet tons of people all the time and you do what you love.”

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