John Tartaglia (b. February 16, 1978) is a puppeteer and actor whose professional career started on Sesame Street, subsequently leading to Broadway stardom and a Tony-award for originating the roles of Princeton and Rod in Avenue Q, off- and on-Broadway, and in the short-lived Las Vegas production.
As a teenager, Tartaglia danced as Cookie Monster and Oscar the Grouch at Sesame Place. He subsequently began on Sesame Street at the age of 16, performing background characters and assisting. Tartaglia was a regular puppeteer for the series through Season 35, though he has returned occasionally for different projects. His later roles included Brandeis the dog in Episode 4307, Birdie in the resource video Little Children, Big Challenges: Divorce, and various characters for "Elmo the Musical." He has also lent his vocals to inserts, such as "Brothers and Sisters" with Stephanie D'Abruzzo (First: Episode 4056).
Tartaglia's production company, Gables Grove Productions, has produced several stage shows; including live versions of Sid the Science Kid and Dinosaur Train, and Elmo the Musical Live! for Sesame Place. Tartaglia has also collaborated with the Henson Company on the live shows Jim Henson's Musical World (which he conceived, directed and hosted) and Jim Henson's Inspired Silliness, and on the PBS series Splash and Bubbles.
Tartaglia took over the role of Gobo Fraggle in 2013, starting with promos for The Hub and continuing through subsequent live appearances. In 2020, he scripted and executive-produced the Fraggle Rock spin-off Fraggle Rock: Rock On!. In addition to reprising Gobo for the series, Tartaglia puppeteered Boober and Uncle Traveling Matt (to Dave Goelz's voice), and Wembley (voiced by Frankie Cordero).
Other stage credits include playing Pinocchio and the Magic Mirror in Shrek on Broadway and Lumiere in the Broadway production of Beauty and the Beast. He also portrayed the role of the Genie in a 2012 St. Louis production of Disney's Aladdin and directed Because of Winn-Dixie, with a real dog on stage. Tartaglia hosts Sunday Funday on Sirius XM On Broadway (Channel 72).
Tartaglia had his own Disney Channel TV series, Johnny and the Sprites, where he starred on-camera opposite puppets played by veteran Sesame Muppeteers. He discussed the experience in a TV Guide interview:
“It is funny because we'd give the humans and celebrities a hard time when they came on [Sesame Street], when they were talking to the puppet and they'd look at the puppeteer and at the monitor that the puppeteers watch to perform. My first two days of shooting were really weird. I kept looking at Leslie [Carrara-Rudolph], who performs Ginger, and I'm like, "What am I doing? I know better than that!" It is challenging at first, but the puppeteers we have on the show are the best of the best, and they always make me believe that they are real. It doesn't take much to believe for a little while that you are talking to these real creatures.”
- Sesame Street: Alfred Duck, Phoebe, Pipe Organ, The Great Quackini, the Martians, Trey, Brandeis
- The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss: Bird, Delivery Man
- Animal Jam: DJ 2
- Play with Me Sesame: Ernie (season 2 and select part of website)
- Sesame English: Tingo
- Music Works Wonders: Hoots the Owl (puppetry only)
- Peter and the Wolf: Muppet Performer, Cameo as an audience member
- Dog City: Additional Puppeteer
- Bear in the Big Blue House: Additional Puppeteer
- A Is for Asthma: Additional Puppeteer
- A Cathedral Christmas: Additional Puppeteer
- Three Bears and a New Baby: Additional Puppeteer
- Elmo's World: Wild Wild West!
- Elmopalooza: Additional Puppeteer
- Elmo's World: Computer Graphic Puppeteer
- Between the Lions: guest Sesame Street puppeteer (Elmo/Bert "Dance with Smartypants" segments)
- Journey to Ernie: Circus Duck (voice)
- Elmo the Musical: Giant Octopus, Fastest-Drawing Fred, Royal Guard, The Man in the Sleeveless Undershirt, Rhombus of Recipes
- Little Children, Big Challenges: Divorce: Birdie
- Fraggle Rock-A-Thon promos: Gobo Fraggle
- Fraggle Rock: Rock On!: Gobo Fraggle; Wembley, Boober, Uncle Traveling Matt (puppetry only)
- According to The MuppetCast episode #41, Tartaglia's biggest inspiration in performing was Richard Hunt.
- Tartaglia says Ernie is his favorite Sesame character. "I was really honored to do Ernie for one season of Play with Me Sesame. Jim Henson was my hero, and the reason I am here now. So to actually have his character and to work with it and that voice and to make that relationship happen with Bert, I was just really honored. You feel like you are a part of history."
- In 1990, TV series MMC had a contest to meet Jim Henson and the other Muppet*Vision 3D puppeteers while they were filming. Producers say Tartaglia lost to Joe Apel, due to the fact Apel was close to Los Angeles.
- An interview with Tartaglia was included as a bonus feature for the Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey DVD.
- Season 36 Press Kit (archived)
- Gables Grove Productions - official site (archived)
- Museum of the Moving Image - "Jim Henson's World: Fraggle Rock Rocks On!" livestream (May 23, 2020)
- TV Guide - "Avenue Q's John Tartaglia Sings a New (Kid-friendlier!) Tune" by Angel Cohn, January 12, 2007
- Poll comment, Muppet Guys Talking private Facebook group, April 26, 2020
- John Tartaglia on Seth Speaks on SiriusXM Satellite Radio, July 10, 2020.