Puppet Program Guest of Honor
Gen Con is excited to announce the Puppet Program Guest of Honor-- Noel MacNeal!
Noel MacNeal launched his career performing on PBS's award-winning Sesame Street, where he honed his craft with puppetry legends Jim Henson and Frank Oz. He’s been a performer on Sesame Street for over thirty years and has trained puppeteers in Japan, Mexico, South Africa, Jordan, Palestine, India, and Pakistan, for the Sesame Workshop international co-productions of Sesame Street. Noel has also performed with Disney's The Muppets as Sweetums.
For over a decade, Noel was the spirit and voice of Bear, the gentle and lovable star of the Emmy Award-winning series Disney's Bear in the Big Blue House and the Disney Channel morning series, Breakfast With Bear. In 2003, Noel received a Daytime Emmy Nomination as “Outstanding Performer in a Children's Series.” His repertoire of characters also includes Kako on the Nick Jr. series Oobi and Blue on Nick Jr.'s Blue's Room. He has also played Magellan on the award-winning series Eureeka's Castle on Nick Jr. He played Madame Chairbird in the film Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird, Rabbit for Disney Channel's Emmy Award-winning series The Book of Pooh, Leon on PBS's The Puzzle Place, and Knock-Knock on The Great Space Coaster. In addition, he's performed with: Woody Allen, Bill Cosby, Whoopie Goldberg, Jerry Lewis, Mickey Rooney, Emma Thompson, Wayne Brady, Dave Chappelle, Donny and Marie Osmond, Gilbert Godfrey, Tom Bergeron, Regis & Kelly, Matt Lauer & Katie Couric, and Julie Andrews. (But not all at once.) Noel is now the resident puppeteer for the HBO series Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.
Noel is also a television writer. His scripts have been featured on PBS Kids Sprout’s The Goodnight Show, Disney Channel’s Bear in the Big Blue House, PBS's The Puzzle Place, The Magic Schoolbus, Cyberchase, and Nickelodeon's Eureeka's Castle and Gullah Gullah Island. He is also a script and television directorial adviser and consultant for the international versions of Sesame Street, as well having directed episodes of Bear in the Big Blue House and Sprout's The Good Night Show. And now he's added the credit of author with his puppet-making book “Ten Minute Puppets with Noel MacNeal,” from Workman Publishing and his follow-up book, “BOX.”
He's done several puppet-making workshops at various bookstores, children’s museums, festivals, and schools in connection with his book. In February of 2014, Noel taught a master class in television puppetry at ERTH, the theatrical puppet and special effects workshop in Sydney, Australia, and as co-taught the popular “Beyond the Sock” master class in television puppetry at the University of North Texas, in Denton, TX. He has also created (by writing, directing, producing, and co-song writing in) three original musical productions as part of the Bronx Zoo's annual BOO AT THE ZOO Halloween celebration. Noel's latest endeavor is to create THE SHOW ME SHOW, the first online/downloadable series for kids of autism & special needs. Noel lives in Brooklyn with his wife, novelist (of the “Maggie Hope Mysteries” from Random House) Susan Elia MacNeal, and twelve-year-old son, Matt (a budding performer who has assisted in Noel's workshops and performed in the 2014 Bronx Zoo production, “The Carnival of Extraordinary Animals”).
In addition to being at many of the puppet events throughout the weekend, Noel will be running these specific events:
- Autism and Puppetry SEM17118998 (Friday 1 pm - 2 pm Crowne Plaza : Grand Central Ballroom B)
- You Can Be A Puppeteer with Noel MacNeal SEM17118996 (Friday 6 pm - 7 pm Crowne Plaza : Grand Central Ballroom B)
- You Can Be A Puppeteer with Noel MacNeal (for kids) KID17118997 (Sunday 1 pm - 2 pm Crowne Plaza : Grand Central Ballroom B)
Or, you can visit him at his booth the Entertainer's spotlight area of the Exhibit Hall, where he'll have items for sale.