I received tickets the day of the event to attend Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey for the premier night of the Dallas International Film Festival at the Winspear Opera House. I sent a last minute text to my friend Travis Warner and told him to meet me there.
Unaware of the black tie dress code, I had thankfully chosen a black Abi Ferrin 5-way dress and Travis had a nice button-up with jeans. Upon arrival I realized how underdressed we (him) were. That didn’t stop us from slipping right past the red carpet guards and tip-toeing through the crowd of diamonds and bow ties to find our seats on the orchestra floor underneath the red glowing chandelier … in honor of Elmo himself.
Michael Cain directed the night with characteristic aplomb. He glided us into a piece full of beauty honoring Ann-Margret. The 50’s bombshell-Elvis squeeze-actress-turned-gospel-singer was both radiant and confused as she shared her love for Texas and her gratefulness for the 2011 DALLAS Star Award.
My favorite presidential candidate ever Ross Perot was Texan hilarious and I could have listened to him all night as he introduced a video tribute to advertising mogul Liener Temerlin. I was lucky to be close to Temerlin’s stunning wife Karla, to see what all the numerous compliments were all about.
A spirited, energetic James Faust introduced the creators of Being Elmo. Director/producer Constance Marks looked stunning on stage as she described her film, along with fellow producers James Miller, and Corinne LaPook.
Then the film began.
Emotions, thoughts, and my own childhood memories come flooding back while watching Kevin Clash’s life unfold before me. I adored the passion and support his parents gave effortlessly to their child from the beginning; they could have easily ended his dream when a boyish Kevin tore apart his father’s trench coat to use the fluffy lining to design his first puppet. I admired Kevin for courageously ignoring the taunts of his peers as he indulged his love of “playing with dolls.” I marveled at the patient guidance shown by master puppet-builder Kermit Love who taught Kevin how to create a “Jim Henson” stitched puppet.
We all know how the story ends. Kevin turned Elmo into a star, one of the transcendent characters of our generation. Seeing the brave battle behind that creation is marvelous, as Kevin’s own persona morphs into Elmo’s with the central ingredient being love. Tears rolled down my cheek when Elmo fulfilled a dying child’s wish with a simple hug from the furry red friend.
That’s the amazing thing about a film premiere. You leave the house worried about wearing the right shoes, and the next moment you are diving headlong into the story and everything else stops as the movie’s message flows through you. In the end, I take away the admonition that childhood dreams are precious, fragile things that must be nurtured.