Noel MacNeal launched his career performing on PBS’s award-winning Sesame Street, where he honed his craft with puppetry legends Jim Henson and Frank Oz. He’s been a performer on Sesame Street for over thirty years and has trained puppeteers in Japan, Mexico, South Africa, Jordan, Palestine, India, and, Pakistan, for the Sesame Workshop international co-productions of Sesame Street. Noel has also performed with Disney’s The Muppets as Sweetums.
For over a decade, Noel was the spirit and voice of Bear, the gentle and lovable star of the Emmy Award-winning series Disney’s Bear in the Big Blue House and the Disney Channel morning series Breakfast with Bear. In 2003, Noel received a Daytime Emmy Nomination as “Outstanding Performer in a Children’s Series.”
His repertoire of characters also includes Kako on the Nick Jr. series Oobi and Blue on Nick Jr.’s Blue’s Room. He’s also played Magellan on the award-winning series Eureeka’s Castle on Nick Jr. He played Madame Chairbird in the film Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird, Rabbit for Disney Channel’s Emmy Award-winning series The Book of Pooh, Leon on PBS’s The Puzzle Place, and Knock-Knock on The Great Space Coaster. In addition, he’s performed with and/or for Woody Allen, Bill Cosby, Whoopi Goldberg, Jerry Lewis, Mickey Rooney, Emma Thompson, Wayne Brady, Dave Chappelle, Donny and Marie Osmond, Gilbert Godfrey, Tom Bergeron, Regis and Kelly, and Matt Lauer and Katie Couric. (But not all at once.) Noel is now the resident puppeteer for the HBO series Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.
Noel is also a television writer. His scripts have been featured on PBS Kids Sprout’s The Goodnight Show, Disney Channel’s Bear in the Big Blue House, PBS’s The Puzzle Place, The Magic Schoolbus and Cyberchase, and Nickelodeon’s Eureeka’s Castle and Gullah Gullah Island. He is also a script and television directorial adviser and consultant for the international versions of Sesame Street as well having directed episodes of Bear in the Big Blue House and PBS Kids Sprout’s The Good Night Show.
And now he’s added the credit of author with his puppet-making book 10-Minute Puppets with Noel MacNeal from Workman Publishing and his follow-up book, BOX! Castles, Kitchens, and Other Cardboard Creations for Kids. He’s done several puppet-making workshops at various bookstores, children’s museums, festivals, and schools in connection with his books. In February of 2014, Noel taught a master class in television puppetry at ERTH, the theatrical puppet and special effects workshop in Sydney, Australia, and as co-taught the popular “Beyond the Sock” master class in television puppetry at the University of North Texas, in Denton, TX. He has also created (by writing, directing, producing, and co-songwriting) three original musical productions as part of the Bronx Zoo’s annual BOO AT THE ZOO Halloween celebration. Noel’s latest endeavor is to create THE SHOW ME SHOW, the first online/downloadable series for kids of autism & special needs.
Noel lives in Brooklyn with his wife, novelist (of the “Maggie Hope Mysteries” from Random House) Susan Elia MacNeal, and ten-year-old son, Mattie (a budding puppeteer who has assisted in Noel’s workshops and performed in the 2014 Bronx Zoo production “The Carnival of Extraordinary Animals.”