Take my heart, take my money. The Muppets proved this weekend that they continue to deserve the limelight, spotlight, keylight, footlight and whatever other light you can throw at them. They illuminated the Hollywood Bowl this weekend with live performances, guest appearances, and a suitably rainbowy fireworks finale. MUPPETS TAKE THE BOWL and they take your heart.
We are so glad we were invited by the Hollywood Bowl to enjoy this very special event.
The evening was hosted by SNL veteran Bobby Moynihan who exudes the perfect personality to handle and deal with the kooky cast that included all the favorites from Kermit and Miss Piggy to shrimpy Pepe and enormous Sweetums; even all of Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayehm were in tow to perform on stage. Music was led by conductor Thomas Wilkins who also factored into a few cameo moments.
From the very first moment of the show, when Sam the Eagle preambles the National Anthem, you know you’re in for a delightfully Muppetational experience. The zany cast of virtuosos — in combination with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra — proved to be an irresistible combination. From the goosebumpy “Muppet Show Theme Song” opening to the “Little Help From My Friends” finale it was an unforgettable night of music and hijinx.
The “Bohemian Rhapsody” Act Two opener was a true highlight, featuring a 30 piece choir and several Muppets solos from Animal, Beaker, Gonzo, and more. Plus, the evening would not have been complete without “Manah Manah.” It was truly fascinating to see the choreography performed here, played just as it would be for the camera. How these performers don’t pass out after just one number is truly astounding. But It wasn’t all just a trip down memory lane; Miss Piggy performed Adele’s “Hello” which took the porcine princess to heights that even she didn’t know were possible.
Also interspersed throughout the program were bits and gags meant to help stretch the show since, in grand Muppet style, the crew was completely unprepared to provide two-and-half-hours-worth of entertainment. On-screen interstitials kept the pace lively with gems such as Keeping up with the Crustaceans (with a whiny clam capturing perfectly the essence of one Kim Kardashian), The Walking Bread (with the Swedish Chef toasting a bunch of undead bread), News Briefs, and several hilarious interruptions by Statler and Waldorf who, obviously, were in a deluxe Box Seat delivering their trademark commentary.
The show is very specifically built around being performed at the Hollywood Bowl with a fair amount of the jokes targeted at the So. Cal audience from digs to Van Nuys and Laurel Canyon to Hollywood references and Los Angeles area in-jokes. It was phenomenally crafted… and FUNNY! Begging the question that many a Muppet fan has been asking… should this show go on the road?
“The Muppet crew is as relevant with the mobile device set of today as they were with the flower child set of the 1970s”
The answer is most assuredly YES. But it would have to be reworked for a touring audience — only because of the geo-specificity of the entire program. Still, this weekend reinforced that the Muppet crew is as relevant with the mobile device set of today as they were with the flower child set of the 1970s. These characters are timelessly endearing and even though their recent television and big-screen ventures have proven less than stellar, there’s still a lot of spark when the Muppets are done right.
There seems to be a puzzling polarizing attitude towards the Muppets in recent years; you either get them or you don’t. For those poor unfortunate souls in the latter category, we can only offer this sage advice: You’re doing it wrong. MUPPETS TAKE THE BOWL brought the undeniably indelible blend of childhood wonderment and adult irreverence for a spectacular evening that was nothing short of dazzling.
Photographs taken by Craig Matthews at the Hollywood Bowl, provided courtesy of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association.