John Tartaglia
John Nicholas Tartaglia

(1978-02-16) February 16, 1978 (age 44)[1]
Other namesJohn Nicholas Tartaglia
Jonathan Nicholas Tartaglia
  • Actor
  • puppeteer
Years active1994–present
Michael Shawn Lewis
(m. 2012; div. 2016)

John Nicholas Tartaglia (born February 16, 1978)[1] is an American actor and puppeteer.

Early life

Tartaglia was born in Maple Shade Township, New Jersey,[2] and graduated from Upper Dublin High School in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, in 1996.[1]

Tartaglia joined Sesame Street's puppetry team in a part-time capacity at the age of 16, making him one of the youngest Sesame Street puppeteers in the show's history. He performed as a right hand and many minor characters, including Phoebe, and is the understudy for Kevin Clash's Elmo. He performed as Ernie for the second season of Play with Me Sesame and as Oscar the Grouch for Sesame Street 4D. He became a full-time part of Sesame Street at the age of 18.[2]

Personal life

Tartaglia is openly gay. Regarding the matter, he has stated "I'm less worried about being a positive role model as a gay person than making sure there are no negative stereotypes of any sort." He considers "nothing more addictive than the sound of an audience laughing" and, regarding the possibility of being "pigeonholed" as a children's entertainer, stated, "If I get pigeonholed, I get pigeonholed. When I do my dark, one-hour miniseries on Lifetime, you'll know!"[3] In 2004, he helped to raise $525,000 for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.[4]

Tartaglia married Michael Shawn Lewis in New York in 2012.[5]


In 2003, he performed DJ 2 in Animal Jam.

Tartaglia created and puppeteered the roles of Princeton (the recent college grad) and Rod (the closeted Republican investment banker) in the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical Avenue Q, which opened July 31, 2003.[6] For the roles, he was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical in 2004. He left the cast on January 30, 2005.[7][8]

Tartaglia appeared in 2004 at the 14th annual Broadway Bares, which raised $525,000 to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.[9]

Tartaglia reprised his roles as Princeton and Rod in the Las Vegas sit-down production of Avenue Q, starting in August 2005[10] until December 11, 2005. He then appeared in the musical Newsical 2006: The Next Edition in New York City, in a limited engagement in December 2005.[11]

Tartaglia joined the cast of Beauty and the Beast as Lumière on November 21, 2006, until early June 2007.[7][12][13]

He appeared in his own television series for Playhouse Disney called Johnny and the Sprites as creator, executive producer, and star. While the episodes began as only 5-minute interstitials, the show began a full 30-minute series on January 13, 2007.[14] The show began filming Season 2 during mid-2007.[13]

In 2007, Tartaglia provided the voice for Mr. Bluelight in Kmart commercials.[15]

He played the roles of Pinocchio, Puss in Boots, and the Magic Mirror and puppeteered the dragon in Shrek The Musical.[16][7] After a try-out in Seattle, the show opened on Broadway at The Broadway Theatre on December 14, 2008. Tartaglia performed in the show until August 16, 2009, and was replaced by Robb Sapp. He returned on December 14, 2009, and stayed until the production closed on January 3, 2010.[7]

Tartaglia created and wrote John Tartaglia's ImaginOcean which was produced Off-Broadway at New World Stages, running from March 31, 2010, to September 4, 2011.[17] The show has music and lyrics by William Wade, with puppets designed and built by The Puppet Kitchen and the set design by Robert Kovach.[18][19] ImaginOcean is a puppet show about fish intended for audiences between the ages of 2 and 8. The puppets glow in the dark while the actors are in black, giving the effect that the puppets are floating. The show was nominated for the 2010 Drama Desk Award for Unique Theatrical Experience.[17]

Tartaglia performed in Los Angeles in the Blank Theatre Company production of The Temperamentals, running from April 9 to May 22, 2011, at the 2nd Stage Theatre.[20][21]

He played Genie in the production of Aladdin in St. Louis at The Muny from July 5–13, 2012.[22]

In 2011, Tartaglia was named a "Givenik Ambassador" by the Broadway/charity site Givenik.

Tartaglia hosts a radio show on Sirius XM On Broadway called Sunday Funday with John Tartaglia.[23]

In 2016, he created the series Splash and Bubbles for PBS Kids, in which he voices Splash and other recurring characters.[24]

In 2017, he performed Hank in Julie's Greenroom.[25]





Year Title Role Theatre Notes
2003 Avenue Q Princeton/Rod Vineyard Theatre Original
John Golden Theatre
2006-2007 Beauty and the Beast Lumiere Lunt-Fontanne Theatre Replacement
2008 Shrek Pinocchio 5th Avenue Theatre Original
2008-2009 Broadway Theatre
2012 Aladdin Genie The Muny


  1. ^ a b c Heller, Karen (September 21, 2003). "From 'Sesame Street' to Broadway". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Archived from the original on August 17, 2014. Retrieved February 3, 2013. Young John, who grew up in Maple Shade and then Ambler, wrote Jim Henson a fan letter.
  2. ^ a b "John Tartaglia". IMDb. Retrieved 2018-01-20.
  3. ^ Riegel, Katie (March 19, 2007). "Broadway Buzz - John Tartaglia". Retrieved March 18, 2017.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ "John Tartaglia | The Official Masterworks Broadway Site". The Official Masterworks Broadway Site. Retrieved 2018-01-20.
  5. ^ Wong, Curtis M. (September 6, 2013). "John Tartaglia, 'Avenue Q' Star, Gets Personal With 'Decade Three' Show At NYC's 54 Below". The Huffington Post.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. ^ Gans, Andrew (June 29, 2009). "Avenue Q to Close in September". Playbill. Retrieved April 6, 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. ^ a b c d "John Tartaglia Broadway", accessed January 4, 2016
  8. ^ Gans, Andrew; Hernandez, Ernio (December 27, 2004). "Tartaglia to Depart Avenue Q Jan. 30". Playbill.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. ^ Lenzi, Linda (2004-06-24). "Photo Coverage: Broadway Bares 14: Now Showing". Retrieved 2008-10-10.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  10. ^ Hernandez, Ernio (September 8, 2005). "Double Down: Avenue Q Opens New Second Run at Wynn Las Vegas, Sept. 8". Playbill.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  11. ^ Hernandez, Ernio (November 16, 2005). "John Tartaglia Comes Back to New York for Newsical 2006: The Next Edition". Playbill.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  12. ^ Gans, Andrew (November 13, 2006). "Tartaglia and Freeman to Join Broadway's Beauty and the Beast". Playbill.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. ^ a b "John Tartaglia, Jonathan Freeman to Join Beauty and the Beast". November 13, 2006. Retrieved April 6, 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  14. ^ Gold, Matea (January 7, 2007). "'The Sprites' thrives in Broadway's ecosystem". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on April 6, 2021.
  15. ^ "Mr. Bluelight". Behind the Voice Actors. Retrieved 24 June 2020.
  16. ^ "Brian d'Arcy James to play Shrek". USA Today. 2008-03-20. Retrieved 2008-03-21.
  17. ^ a b "John Tartaglia's ImaginOcean". Internet Off-Broadway Database. Retrieved April 6, 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  18. ^ Gans, Andrew (February 9, 2010). "John Tartaglia's Imaginocean to Play New World Stages". Playbill.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  19. ^ Thielman, Sam (April 6, 2010). "John Tartaglia's Imaginocean". Variety.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  20. ^ "Review: 'The Temperamentals' at The Blank Theatre Company"[permanent dead link] Los Angeles Magazine, June 1, 2011
  21. ^ Gans, Andrew (March 3, 2011). "John Tartaglia, Erich Bergen, Patrick Scott Lewis Set for Blank Theatre Company's Temperamentals". Playbill.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  22. ^ Gans, Andrew (July 5, 2012). "Aladdin, with Robin de Jesus, John Tartaglia, Curtis Holbrook, Francis Jue, Plays the Muny Starting July 5". Playbill.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  23. ^ "On Broadway". SiriusXM. Retrieved April 6, 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  24. ^ Milligan, Mercedes (May 21, 2016). "PBS KIDS Dates Premiere for Henson's 'Splash and Bubbles'". Animation Magazine. Retrieved January 20, 2018.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  25. ^ Robbins, Caryn (April 23, 2017). "John Tartaglia Gushes Over Netflix Co-Star Julie Andrews, Talks Broadway Return Hopes & More!". BroadwayWorld.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
Preceded byJerry Nelson Performer of Gobo Fraggle 2013-present Succeeded byNone Preceded byAlice Dinnean Performer of Phoebe 2002 Succeeded byNone