Carmen Sandiego Wiki

Where in the Universe is Carmen Sandiego? was a planetarium show developed for the United States, Canada, and Japan. Released in 1999, this live theatrical edutainment program not only featured the planetarium film, but also a quiz for audience participants. There are two versions of the show, Carmen I, which released in 1999, and Carmen II, which released later.

The show combined elements from previous works, with Carmen being voiced by Rita Moreno as in the Earth cartoon, while The Chief and Rockapella were from the World gameshow.


Carmen I[]

The show was written and produced by Dr. Bill Gutsch, producer of the Sesame Street show "Wonderful Sky". Proceedings of the International Planetarium Society Conference explained the Carmen I's production: "To amass the necessary funding to create the program, a consortium of eight planetariums in the US and Canada was assembled by the author with each institution contributing $7200 to the production budget for the first Carmen show. Animation was provided by a variety of sources including Broderbund Software, Inc., Sky-Skan, Inc., and Evan & Sutherland. Video of talent in costume and make up was recorded on a large Ultimat sound stage in New Jersey with backgrounds and special effects added in post production. Five-part harmonies by Rockapella...were recorded at a sound studio in New York, mixed down from 14 tracks on ADAT to stereo on DAT and lip synced on the sound stage. Final video and audio elements were created and assembled on D1 and Betacam SP and converted, after final mix, to a pair of laser discs. To help create and preserve visual realism, panorama and all-sky environments for the show were created by Brian Sullivan as 3-D models which were then lit and photographed by individual planetariums to achieve best fit for their particular projection systems. The end result was a program which utilized highly recognized, franchised characters linked to television, computer games, and other merchandise, on-camera talent who had Tony, Oscar, Emmy, and Grammy Awards to their credit, and featured state-of-the-art 3-D color computer animation for a fraction of the cost to each institution that the show cost to produce as a whole". Michael Clark established the Clark Foundation, whose first donation - an $8,000 gift - was given to the planetarium in 1997 to help produce 'Where in the Universe is Carmen Sandiego."

Carmen I has been shown in over two dozen planetariums in the US, Canada, and Japan, has beaten attendance records for IMAX movies in the same location, increased overall annual attendance in individual planetariums by as much as 97%, and been over 800% more successful than all competing educational planetarium programs in the same theaters. The show has been highly praised by both teachers and students. A color show poster and a Teacher's Guide pack with pre- and post visit activities were also produced to complement the show.

ArtsPartners describes the show thus: Features a tour of our solar system in a story based on a popular television series. Carmen Sandiego has stolen the rings of Saturn, and it is the mission of the audience, each an Official Gumshoe of the Acme Detective Agency, to track Carmen down as she eludes her pursuers. The Planetarium's Head Gumshoe uses video effects, computer animations, NASA footage, and All Sky ship interiors to encourage class participation in the search to bring Carmen to justice. (55 mm.)". The show is for grades 2-6. Children under 3 and museum members were admitted free. A live actor plays the role of Wanda Ketchum (i.e. 'wander catch em').

Carmen II[]

The financial success of Carmen I allowed a sequel, Carmen II, to be produced. While Carmen I covered only the Solar System, Carmen II explored: stars, multiple stars, star clusters, stellar evolution, supernovae, neutron stars, black holes, and the size/structure of the Milky Way Galaxy. The show had higher production values than the original, with the team using "all the same production and education devices that made “Carmen I” such a success while, at the same time, increasing both the amount and quality of the computer animation employed". Many affiliated institutions contributed both funding and animation, giving the show extra talent such as that by animators: Salt Lake's Aaron McEuen, Houston's Tony Butterfield, Dickson's Weiherng Lee and Kevin Scott, and Vancouver's Erik Koelemeyer. The character and black hole animation was produced by a team of California animators. Steve Savage provided the Sky-Skan's animation material, while The Renaissance Center produced the video post production time and facilities. Again, a poster and an extensive Teacher's Guide were provided with the show.

The second show was highly successful program which "cost each consortium participant, and subsequent purchaser, only $6200", in a situation where the animation alone would have cost over $200,000. “Carmen I” and “Carmen II” demonstrated that "very successful production and fiscal models have been developed for the creation of high end educational planetarium programming".

ArtsPartners describes the show thus: "In this sequel to the popular show, Carmen escapes prison, develops Warp Drive, and plans to steal the black hole at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. Gumshoes use their knowledge of the stars, nebulae, and other galactic objects to track Carmen down and bring her once again to justice!"



  • This was Lynne Thigpen's final appearance with the Carmen Sandiego franchise before her death in 2003. She wore her Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego? Chief's uniform in the program.
  • This was Rockapella's first appearance in four years with the Carmen Sandiego franchise. However, this was Kevin Wright's first and only appearance in the Carmen Sandiego franchise. Sean Altman left Rockapella in 1997 to pursue a solo career.