As an actor, Mr. Muraoka is most recognizable for his role in the Emmy Award winning series, Sesame Street, where he has played "Alan," the proprietor of Hooper's Store for the past 21 seasons. With Sesame he has performed concerts at Carnegie Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, and with the Boston Pops. He has appeared in seven Broadway shows; Aladdin, the revival of Pacific Overtures, Mail, Shogun, the Musical, My Favorite Year, the Tony-winning revival of The King and I (with Lou Diamond Phillips and Donna Murphy), and most notably Miss Saigon, where he played the lead role of the Engineer. His national tour credits include M. Butterfly, Miss Saigon, and two companies of the Lincoln Center production of Anything Goes. Regionally he was last seen in the Kennedy Center revival of Mame starring Christine Baranski and has performed at the Cincinnati Playhouse, Alliance Theatre, North Shore Theatre, Westport Playhouse, Berkshire Theatre Festival, & the Minnesota Opera. He is featured in the films, It Could Happen to You, and Day of Independence, a film by Academy Award winning director Chris Tashima. Television credits include Curb Your Enthusiasm, Louie, 30 Rock, The Late Show With David Letterman, Brotherhood, and The Tonight Show. Mr. Muraoka is a graduate of UCLA, where he received the Carol Burnett Musical Comedy Award for performance. He was also the 2004 recipient of the APEX Inspiration Award and the FCC's 2007 Role Model of the Year Award.
As a director Mr. Muraoka received critical acclaim for his all Asian production of the William Finn musical Falsettoland for the National Asian American Theatre Company(NAATCO), which enjoyed a sold-out run at the Vineyard Theatre in NYC. The production was revived in June 2007 for the first-ever National Asian American Theatre Festival held in New York City. Other New York credits include: The Report (NY Fringe Festival), Kung Fu (Assistant Director-Signature Theatre), American Songbook: Ann Harada (Lincoln Center Theatre), Awesomer & Awesomer!!! (Triad Theatre), Telly Leung: Playlist (54 Below), John Tartaglia AD-LIBerty (Joe's Pub) Who Loves Ya' Baby (Laurie Beechman Theatre), Grand Hotel (NYU/Cap 21), Karaoke Stories (IMUA Theater Company), Christmas Eve With Christmas Eve (BC/EFA) Empty Handed (Musicals Tonight) and cabarets for Tony-nominated actress Stephanie D'Abruzzo and Ann Harada. Regionally: South Pacific & Once On This Island (Olney Theatre), The King and I (Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma & Harbor Lights Theatre), Xanadu (Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma), Disney's High School Musical (Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma, MUNY, Casa Manana), Disney's High School Musical 2 (Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma), Urinetown (Trinity University), and Associate Director for Up In The Air (Kennedy Center). He has also directed for the Public Theater, the Village Theater in Seattle, and a three city Taiwanese tour of a rock musical called, "Making Tracks" for Second Generation. Television: Alan has directed for Sesame Street and for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on NBC (Sesame Street float w/Jimmy Fallon & The Roots). Mr. Muraoka is a member of the SDC and the Lincoln Center Director's Lab. He is currently developing developing new musical projects with composers Keith Dale Gordon, Jason Ma, and Christine Toy Johnson.
For those of you who might have found your way here because of Sesame Street or my other acting work, you might also be interested to know that I am a professional director as well. And for those of you who came to look at my directing credits, my acting work will give you an idea of my origins, my personal style, and my POV.
So what can I tell you about myself? I was born in the San Fernando Valley, in a little town called Mission Hills, CA. Fun fact! Mission Hills is the birthplace of Olympic figure skater Tai Babalonia, and the final resting place for 50’s singer Richie Valens!
I’m not sure when the acting bug hit, but I know that by the age of 10, I was performing the title role of “The Candy Man” at a movie theatre in downtown LA. My duties were to dance around with a stick decorated with colored masking tape to look like a candy cane, and to take handfuls of hard candy and throw them at the audience during the intermissions of the double feature. And of course, Sammy Davis Jr.’s song was blasting from the speakers. Yes, a truly auspicious beginning.
My directing debut was in high school when I directed an hour version of Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” for my Drama Class. I was called into a meeting with the principal, who urged me to remove any of the “naughty” words which are peppered throughout the play. I held my ground, claiming artistic integrity and First Amendment rights. I won, and ultimately the principal said it was the best show he’s seen at the school. (See what a few carefully placed curse words can get you? My first rave review!)
From there, I was accepted into the Theatre Department of UCLA, where I spent 5 years honing my craft and learning that there were much more talented people out there than little ol’ me. I took a semester off from my sophomore year and got my first professional job as one of the“Kids of the Kingdom” at Disney World. We were a singing and dancing troupe which performed 5 times daily in front of Cinderella’s Castle in the Florida heat and humidity. Sometimes it got so hot that the rubber melted off of our dance shoes, but I didn’t care. I was a working professional.
After that, I went back to UCLA to get my degree, and worked at Disneyland in California on weekends, holidays, and summers.
While at UCLA, I won the Carol Burnett Musical Theatre Award, which was an acting competition in which 8 lucky finalists got to perform live in front of a panel of celebrity judges. (Rock Hudson and Ken Berry were the judges in this photo) It was the “American Idol” of UCLA, and I got to meet Ms. Burnett as well, which was a huge thrill.
My life changed in 1986, when I auditioned for a musical called “Mail” in LA, which had its sights set on Broadway. Well, I got it, and to make a long story short, it was the show that brought me to New York. We opened in the winter of 1987 at the Music Box Theatre, and were greeted with such reviews as, “’Mail!’ Return To Sender!” and “’Mail’ Comes Up Postage Due!” But it got me to New York, and I was fulfilling a life-long dream.
I did 7 Broadway shows in all, the most memorable being the lead role of the Engineer in “Miss Saigon”. I feel so lucky and humbled that I got to do the shows that I did. And those opportunities have brought me to where I am today.
In 1997, I went for an audition to be the new proprietor of “Hooper’s Store” on “Sesame Street”. They were seeing hundreds of actors, and I was just one of the many who filed through their doors. I was called back to audition, again…and again. Finally at the last audition they had me do improv with Telly Monster, and I was sweating bullets. But I survived, and SPOILER ALERT…got the job! It has been my home for over a decade, and it is truly one of the greatest gifts of my life to be a part of such an important show. We have tackled issues that range from 9/11 to Hurricane Katrina, and it makes me proud to be a part of a show that I have loved since I was a child.
So have fun looking around my site! Watch a video, check out what's coming up in the near future, or send me an email to let me know if you have any questions. And thank you again for visiting!