Avenue Q Wiki

John Nicholas Tartaglia (born February 16, 1978) is an American puppeteer, actor, singer, dancer, voice artist, and comedian.

Early life[]

Tartaglia was born in Maple Shade Township, New Jersey, USA, and graduated from Upper Dublin High School in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania.

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


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. For the roles, he was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical in 2004. He left the cast on January 30, 2005.

Tartaglia appeared in 2004 at the 14th annual Broadway Bares, which was a great success raising $525,000 to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

Tartaglia reprised his roles as Princeton and Rod in the Las Vegas sit-down production of Avenue Q, starting in August 2005 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.

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

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. The show began filming Season 2 during mid-2007.

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

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

Tartaglia created and wrote John Tartaglia's ImaginOcean which was produced Off-Broadway at New World Stages, running from in March 31, 2010 to September 4, 2011. 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. This is a puppet show meant for audiences between the ages of 2 and 8 about fish. They 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, Unique Theatrical Experience.

He performed in Los Angeles at The Blank Theatre Company production of The Temperamentals, running from April 9-May 22, 2011 at the 2nd Stage Theatre.

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

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

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

In 2016, he created the series Splash and Bubbles for PBS Kids, where he voices Splash and other recurring characters.

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

Personal life[]

John 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's 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!" In 2004, he helped to raise $525,000 for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

He married Michael Shawn Lewis in New York in 2012. The pair later divorced.