For just about forever, The Muppets Take Manhattan has been my favorite Muppet movie. (Now that I’ve seen The Muppet Movie, I’m not so sure really. But I don’t want to face those hurtful truths right now. They both make me happy!) Even though I’ve always lived so close to New York City, a majority of my favorite movies and television shows are set there. Of course, the thought of the Muppets having a show on Broadway is pretty much a dream come true.
For awhile now, I thought it would be fun to piece together a tour of the movie and after scouting out some Muppet history last week, I knew it had to be done. So here are a few of the tri-state area hot spots featured in one of my favorite Muppet flicks:
Danhurst College: where Kermit and the gang graduate from college and perform Manhattan Melodies for the first time. This is actually Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York.
1501 Broadway (between 43rd & 44th): The first agent that the Muppets visit once they arrive in New York. Mr. Price is interested in their show, but only at a price… plus he’s kind of a criminal. Time to take a lunch break on our tour. This location is actually home to Hard Rock Café now.
Empire State Building (34th & 5th Avenue): Kermit travels to the observation deck after all his friends leave NYC. He vows then and there that he has to get his friends back and he is going to get the show produced on Broadway! “You hear me New York! We’re going to be on Broadway! Cause I’m not giving up! I’m still here and I’m staying!”
The Plaza Hotel (59th Street between 5th & 6th Avenue): When I think of The Plaza, I can’t help but remember Kevin McAllister speaking into his Talk Boy in Home Alone 2 (another one of my favorites). Unlike Kevin, Kermit and the gang don’t use a stolen credit card to stay there; instead, Jenny and Kermit sit across the street and discuss the success of his latest plan in getting their musical noticed. Miss Piggy spies on them while some construction workers hit on her.
Sardi’s (44th Street between 7th and 8th): Famous New York restaurant with millions of celebrity caricatures on the walls. Kermit makes a reservation for a solo meal here, while Rizzo and his pals “spread the word” about Manhattan Melodies. Pretty awesome Liza Minnelli cameo as well.
Pete’s Luncheonette (208 Varick Street): The main meeting spot for a lot of the best scenes in the movie. Pete owns the place; his daughter Jenny waitresses there while she works to become a famous fashion designer. Rizzo works there too, and later Kermit joins the fun. After Piggy is caught spying, she becomes a waitress there too. Plus, Pete dispenses some worthy (yet confusing) advice. You can stop by if you want, but only if you have a craving for a McFlurry. It’s a McDonald’s Express now.
Biltmore Theater (47th Avenue between 7th & 8th): Home to Manhattan Melodies. This theater is no longer called the Biltmore and instead became the Samuel J. Friedman Theater in 2008 (after a Broadway publicist). Unfortunately, the building looks nothing like it did in the movie. The inside of the theater was destroyed by a fire and left empty for 14 years. In 2001, Manhattan Theatre Club bought the building and restored the theater. (It is gorgeous inside. I saw Rabbit Hole and Time Stands Still there in the past 5 years. Now I have to go back and see if there are any mentions of my pals. Here’s a list of what will be playing currently and the upcoming months.)
Honestly, I don’t want to know if you’ve never seen this movie. Instead, I’m going to pretend you haven’t revisited it in awhile. If you want to gain valuable knowledge – did you know pigs have no eyebrows and frogs shave? — it’s definitely time to check it out again. And the next time you are hanging around the Big Apple, take some time to discover the Muppet magic around you! (Do me a favor and buy it here.)
All pictures are screencaps from my copy of The Muppets Take Manhattan.