Stephanie Ann D'Abruzzo Shemin (born December 7, 1971) is an American actress, singer, and puppeteer.
D'Abruzzo voices the annoying little girl Lisa Rental, the sheep hating Lady Virginia Richington, Richington's pet poodle and Sheep's love interest Swanky, The Plot Device (a machine that comes up with plans for General Specific to capture sheep), news reporter Betsy, and various characters on Sheep in The Big City (TV series).
Early Life Edit
D'Abruzzo grew up in McMurray, Pennsylvania, a Pittsburgh suburb she has described as a "plastic bubble kind of town."She graduated from Peters Township High School, where she was active in the theater program, and attended the Pennsylvania Governor's School for the Arts, a summer program for gifted high school students.
D'Abruzzo is a 1993 graduate of the Radio/Television/Film program at Northwestern University. A resident of the university's Communications Residential College, D'Abruzzo could often be caught watching (and, as it turns out, studying) Sesame Street. She also had a large collection Muppet recordings, which she compiled into a mixtape that she auctioned off for dorm fundraisers.
Eventually, D'Abruzzo began to consider puppetry as a career, in part as a solution to finding acting roles after she "gained more than the Freshman 15 and got a bad perm. D'Abruzzo's production of a puppet television show called ''Freeform'' (directed by Elizabeth Kirkscey) won the National College Emmy award for comedy.
D'Abruzzo's other standout roles at Northwestern included Mildred in the short film ''The Ballad of Hank and Mildred'' and as herself in ''The Glance.'' While in college, she also performed with a campus improvisational comedy troupe.
Though D'Abruzzo has spent most of her career performing as a puppeteer in children's television, she is best known for originating the roles of single schoolteacher Kate Monster and sultry chanteuse Lucy the Slut in the Broadway musical Avenue Q. D'Abruzzo earned widespread acclaim for her performance of the dual role, including a nomination for the 2004 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical, a Drama Desk nomination, the Theatre World Award, and the Outer Critics Circle Special Ensemble Award.
D'Abruzzo has performed and voiced nearly 200 characters for various projects including Oobi (playing Uma and Inka), Bear in the Big Blue House, Donna's Day, The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss, Binyah Binyah!, The Puzzle Place, Rory's Place (for which she co-wrote a pair of episodes with husband Craig Shemin), Sheep in the Big City and The Book of Pooh (playing the inquisitive bird Kessie).
Her other stage credits include I Love You Because (off-Broadway), If You Give A Mouse A Cookie (TheaterworksUSA), Carnival (for City Center Encores!), Kiss and Makeup (New York City Fringe Festival), and Austentatious (New York Musical Theatre Festival).
D'Abruzzo has performed in developmental readings of Avenue Q, I Love You Because, Oh, What a Lovely War!, The $trip, The Medium at Large, and The Green Room.
She has also been featured in several concerts and benefits, including Skitch Henderson's New Faces of 2004 at Carnegie Hall, Encores! 10th Anniversary Bash, Chess (for the Actors' Fund), Children and Art: Stephen Sondheim's 75th Birthday Gala, and Stephen Sondheim's 75th: The Concert (at the Hollywood Bowl).
D'Abruzzo appears on the original cast recordings of Avenue Q and I Love You Because and performs the parts of "Sheldon" and "Deb" on the studio recording of Finding Nemo - The Musical, a new musical production performed several times each day at Disney's Animal Kingdom.
She is also one of the performers included in the documentary Showbusiness: The Road to Broadway, which chronicles the 2003-2004 Broadway season.
In May 2005, D'Abruzzo made her solo cabaret debut at the New York City jazz club Birdland.