When I bought my tickets for Jim Henson’s Musical World event back in December, I thought my husband and I would be visiting Carnegie Hall for the first time and hearing the NY Pops orchestra play Muppet tunes. This was totally fine with me. The ticket was only 15 bucks for the “orchestra” seats. I wasn’t expecting anything crazy. So you can only imagine my surprise when an appearance list about the event was making its way around the internet a few weeks ago.
Puppeteers? Bob McGrath? Could there be Muppets at this thing? Real life Muppets?
Facebook updates and Tweets from Carnegie Hall, NY Pops, and the Henson Company confirmed the truth with pictures from the rehearsals.
THERE WOULD BE MUPPETS.
I was pretty psyched to see the movie in theaters. I was talking really loud and squealing just to see a movie! So… I was pretty much over the moon for this event. And let me tell you.
After marrying my husband, it might be the second most momentous time of my life.
* cue the Dirty Dancing song *
I was literally so overcome with emotion, I wasn’t sure whether to laugh hysterically or cry my eyes out for an entire hour. I wanted to staple myself into the seat – Waldorf & Statler style – to watch the second performance.
So what happened?
Let me start by saying the program revealed nothing. Nada. It contained the same list of performers I had seen in the New York Times and on other websites so… as an audience, we literally had no idea what was going to happen. That made it so much more exciting. Added bonus: Tau Bennett, the young puppeteer featured in the Being Elmo documentary, was seated RIGHT in front of us.
Once we sat down it was pretty obvious there was going to be much Muppet magic. There were black curtains covering basically the entire orchestra.
I couldn’t wait to see what this meant for the show!
The show opened with a clip of Rowlf’s first appearance at Carnegie Hall from 1965. Soon after, Rowlf popped up and joked about how it only took him 40 years to get back to CH. The Electric Mayhem showed up next playing a medley of Muppet songs, backed up by the NY Pops orchestra and a choir called Essential Voices.
Of course, a Muppet show isn’t complete with a little bit of drama. Host John Tartaglia (who I loved in Avenue Q’s original cast and also conceived/directed this event) was roused awake by the conductor, Steven Reineke, because he thought the show was NEXT week, so of course he showed up in his PJs. (Underneath, he had on a blazer and adorable green pants. I wanted those.) This also meant that the rest of the “special guests” wouldn’t be showing up because they don’t know the true date of the show.
That’s when Fozzie popped in. For real. I felt like such a little kid. Every time a Muppet would pop up my heart did a little skip and I felt so unbelievably happy.
This continued to happen for me when the Fraggles (Wembly, Red and Uncle Matt) showed up (according to Uncle Matt the Carnegie Cave was built last week by the Doozers). Waldorf and Statler were somewhere in the balcony happy about the schedule confusion (of course), and then I thought I was going to lose it when a bunch of the adults from Sesame Street came strolling up the aisles. First of all, it is super weird to think that the same people I watched are still on the show and look so freaking good. Then, they were joined by Bert & Ernie, Elmo, and Cookie Monster, who ate two cookies in front of me.
The moment was entirely surreal.
Afterwards John Tartaglia wanted to hear about the audience’s “Muppet moments” and took to aisles, where he found Paul Williams, writer of such songs like “The Rainbow Connection, sitting in the crowd. What a coincidence! Wink wink. Luckily Paul never goes anywhere without his Muppet music and gladly jumped on stage to join the orchestra. This cute little man was great on stage, singing along to songs from Emmet Otter. He also said some lovely things about working with Jim and how work felt like playtime; employees were always encouraged to be creative. When Paul asked Jim if he wanted to hear the songs before they filmed them for The Muppet Movie, Jim was like, I’ll hear them when you record them. With total trust. Paul remarked that you don’t find many people to work with like that these days.
I could have melted into the floor for this next part.
Fozzie showed up again, having failed to find the Muppets because he thought he was on a search for muffins. And John started singing “Just One Person” which basically makes me want to curl up in the fetal position because it’s such a sweet song. And then all the Muppets showed up. I feel myself getting all teary about it right now just thinking about it. Kermit, Gonzo, Scooter, Beauregard, Rowlf, Electric Mayhem (minus Animal, he did make an appearance in the beginning), Beaker and Honeydew.
Muppet freaking overload.
If I could capture that moment and save it forever to replay somehow, I would.
The gang sang a few other ditties like (MY FAVORITE) “Movin’ Right Along”, (MY SECOND FAVORITE) “Together Again”, “Happy Feet”, “Mahna Mahna”, and Kermit sang “Bein’ Green”.
Miss Piggy also made a grand appearance (like Fozzie, she showed up early but because she wanted to redecorate her dressing room) and admitted to wearing 3 pairs of spanx. Later, I contemplated this. Would Miss Piggy EVER admit to wearing 3 pairs of spanx? You decide.
The show closed with the special guests returning to the stage and joining the Muppets for “The Rainbow Connection.”
How did I hold it together? I have no idea. It was really hard.
I can tell you I was one of the first to stand up for the standing O. I mean, holy crap. The show was the perfect balance of funny with some cheesy and a huge blanket of nostalgia. Plus, it was the perfect tribute to Jim. It felt like a once in a lifetime moment. (Not only did I get to hear these Muppets sing but I got to hear them talk to one another!)
I feel like such a fan girl for saying this but my heart felt SO full during this performance. The Muppets make me so unbelievably happy and I’m so happy to have rediscovered them.
I hope this means we have more performances like this to look forward to. My only complaints were the screaming children (Ahh! those acoustics) and the horrible sound quality. Too many lines were missed because of non-working microphones and that seemed surprising for a venue that is all about music.
But the best thought I had was: these Muppets are back, baby. It was nice to see such a diverse group in the audience with such love (I mean, why else was that kid screaming? It was like seeing the Beatles, right?!) and I hope that means this Muppet momentum will just keep on going strong.
For a entire recap of the event, check out ToughPig’s post.
Note: I apologize for the mediocre/bordering on terrible pictures. The lightning was weird and I didn’t have enough time to react plus… I’m not sure I was supposed to be taking photos at all. ha!