Alan Muraoka posted this photo on his Facebook page Jan. 15 with the following description: “First day of filming of Season 51 of ‘Sesame Street’ and the beginning of my 22nd year on the show. Grateful and excited.”

In 1998 (Season 30), Muraoka joined the cast as the new owner of Hooper’s Store.

In a “Today” interview last year marking “Sesame Street’s” 50th anniversary, he said, “I love the idea of educating kids and making them smarter, stronger and kinder, which is sort of our mission statement. And you know, you get to play with Muppets and monsters all day. And so the core lessons that we teach are something that I think everybody should have, to move on into life for both education and emotional purposes …

“To be able to see so many different types of people represented is super important. So for me, being Japanese American, you know, to be sort of the Asian American representation on the show is so important, and I’ve had so many Asian American parents come up and say how much that meant to them. But I feel like I’m just another person in this beautiful fabric that we’ve woven and created …

“I think why it’s still around is that we still have many things to say, that society is constantly changing, and issues that arise for kids are constantly changing. And so we try to be on the forefront of that, and create shows around those topics, like autism, like foster care. So as long as there’s a need to bring up these subjects, I think that’s why ‘Sesame Street’ has been around and will still be around, hopefully for another 50 years.”

Originally from Mission Hills, Muraoka is also known for his stage work in such musicals as “Shogun,” “Miss Saigon” and “Pacific Overtures” and directing “Falsettoland,” “High School Musical” and “Urinetown.”

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