Muppet Monday: West Side Story

I’m sure by now you’ve realized I’m a huge theater fan (evidence: here, here and here) and after watching the first few episodes of this season’s Glee, where they are putting on West Side Story, I realized there couldn’t be any more perfect timing to talk about The Muppet Show and its own West Side Story history.

When I started watching The Muppet Show DVDs, I was struck by just how many of the guest stars were actors and actresses from the theater world. Another thumbs up for Jim Henson and the show: any person who appreciates theater is a friend of mine.A favorite skit of mine was when Rita Moreno, Academy Award winning actress who played Anita in the West Side Story film, performed the tango with a full-sized person Muppet in 1976. Not only does the video scream, “this lady takes no crap from anyone,” but she showcases some of her absolutely amazing footwork. (It starts at 1:50.)

Pretty awesome, isn’t it?

Rita actually won an Emmy for her guest appearance on The Muppet Show.

Here’s a clip of Rita in the West Side Story film. She’s in the purple dress. One of my favorites. Music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by another favorite of mine, Stephen Sondheim.

(One completely unrelated recommendation: watch Singing in the Rain. Rita stars in this as well, and it is amazing.)

As a bonus… a bit of Disney trivia related to West Side Story, too. When James and I were on our honeymoon cruise, Bobby Podesta, supervising animator of Toy Story 3, shared that the scene where Maria and Tony first meet inspired the scene where Ken and Barbie first lock eyes. I thought that was pretty fascinating!


I love how theater has influenced (ever so subtly) Disney, Pixar, and the Muppets. It’s just about all my favorite things are rolled into one… all that’s missing is a cupcake.

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A book publicist who loves writing about Disney and books, and sometimes Disney books.

2 thoughts on “Muppet Monday: West Side Story

  1. Here’s a cut of Rita in the West Side Story film. She’s in the lilac dress. One of my favorites Music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by an additional favorite of mine.

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