From September 8th through the 10th, some legendary icons of the stage and screen assembled for a once-in-a-lifetime performance at the prestigious Hollywood Bowl. The evening was full of wonderment, spectacle, comedy, weirdness, and all manner of folderol. I am talking about none other than the Muppets historic three-night engagement in the heart of Hollywood. Try to contain your glee and calm your chickens as I recap all of the event's zany moments.
It started on a patriotic note with Sam Eagle introducing the "National Anthem." Of course, he needed a little wrangling from Stage manager Scooter as he began to ramble about the song's historic origins. Thomas Wilkins conducted the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and the audience rose to their feet to salute our great country.
Kermit took the stage to welcome the 18,000 audience members to a wonderful evening at the Bowl, promising the usual 21-minutes of content followed by 90-minutes of orchestra. That's when Scooter interrupted with an important message from "Greg," the booking agent for the Bowl, to state that the Muppets are contractually obligated to perform the entire night. Scooter's recommendation to Kermit: "Streeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeetch."
From the side of the stage, two rows of arches and curtains slid to meet in the middle, creating the iconic opening stage from The Muppet Show. The theme song began to play and the Muppets performed it completely live! It was incredible, if you grew up with these characters there was simply no way to control your enthusiasm. Hats flew off heads, cheers and squeals were heard from all corners of the amphitheater, and I'm sure more than a few people lost bladder control. It reached that level of splendor. Special guest Bobby Moynihan was called out by Kermit and when Gonzo blew his trumpet, he set off every car alarm in the parking lot by mistake.
Next was a medley that included Kermit and Fozzy recreating "Moving Right Along" from The Muppet Movie, Rowlf singing about all of the places he's been with a rapid listing of Southern California towns, and a hitchhiking song by Bobby Moynihan and Walter, where they were joined for the final verse by Kermit, Fozzy, and Rowlf.
Statler and Waldorf would routinely interrupt the show from their box seats in the Bowl's most expensive section. They dined on cheeses, drank wine, and lived their best life as they snubbed the performances repeatedly. Constantly up to their old tricks, they drew big laughs from the crowd each and every time. Piggy made her grand entrance, carried on a bed by four chiseled servants and questioning Kermit on when she can perform her big musical number. He explained that he was saving the best for last.
Next was the first of several live versions of classic Muppet Show sketches. PIGS... IN... SPACE!!! Captain Link Hogthrob, First Mate Piggy, and Dr. Julius Strangepork took their seats at the controls of the Swinetrek and began making pop culture jukes about other famous sci-fi properties. At this point, a legal team intercepted with a threat and the crew decided to set their course for the public domain.
The weirdness went to the next level when the song "Hair" from the musical Hair was performed by a group of singing wigs. Gonzo then approached the audience with a few safety warnings about his forthcoming act. His questions asked if anyone was allergic to lava, could be harmed by cannons, or had a fear of bologna spiders. Thankfully, Kermit asked Gonzo to put his mind on his act to see if he could do something without lava or spiders.
Another iconic musical number was brought to life as Kermit showed Bobby Moynihan his "Happy Feet." It was incredibly impressive, with puppeteers completely in black and becoming almost invisible on the monitors. I literally heard someone ask "How did they do that?" Through magic that only the Muppets could make, Bobby was given his own pair of frog legs so he could join Kermit.
One of my favorite parts of the night was when an announcer with a thick Spanish accent proclaimed that a car with the license plate "ICONDUCT" was double parked and about to be towed, leading Conductor Thomas Wilkins to excuse himself. Pepe the King Prawn popped up in his place with batons in all four arms to lead the orchestra in a "spicy" version of "Beethoven's 5th Symphony." When Wilkins returned, he tried to take control back, but discovered that he and Pepe made a pretty great team.
Wayne and Wanda were introduced for the first of two numbers. This time, they performed "Send in the Clowns" and were interrupted and frightened away at the start of the first chorus by some terrifying Muppet clowns. After the intermission, they assumed "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay" would be harmless, but a shark arrived to do them harm. Kermit also introduced his nephew Robin for a croak-a-pella version of "Hooray for Hollywood."
Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem rocked the Bowl for a three-song set that started with one of their classics, "Can You Picture That." A more modern jam, Janice and Floyd Pepper took the lead vocals on "Home" by Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeroes. To finish their set, they paid tribute to David Bowie with "Suffragette City." Honestly, if the Hollywood Bowl had a roof on it, they would have blown the roof off.
The mayhem continued after a brief intermission. Proceed to the next page to see the mirth and merriment from act two.