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Sunday, 22 July 2018

Muppets take the 02 Photos and Review

The Muppets Take the 02 review and photos

Last weekend we had a family day out to London to see the Muppets at the 02 Arena. I have very fond memories of watching the Muppet Show during my childhood along with enjoying the fun and humour from Sesame Street to the Muppet Babies. In more recent years I've enjoyed watching the new Muppets films with the kids, especially 'The Muppets' although I think that they lost the plot a bit with 'Muppets Most Wanted'. We were very keen to go and see them when they announced the live shows. Not wanting to be defeated by the high ticket prices for a family we booked the cheapest seats. Judging by the slow ticket sales it seems that the show had misjudged how many people would be prepared to pay to watch a tiny Kermit in a massive arena- I hoped it would turn out to have been worth it!

The Muppets Take the 02
Waiting for the train to London...

The Muppets Take the 02
Service Information at the underground station!
The whole show had been advertised as an event where there would be lots of exciting things going on around the arena- disappointingly there wasn't. We took our seats for the matinee far up in the upper circle and it was dizzying. Luckily we could see that this was certainly not a sell out so took the opportunity when it was offered to move forward and sit slightly further down and closer to the action. These quality of the photos in this review is due to my excellent camera and do not represent our distance from the stage! The stage was flanked by two screens so that the show could be seen by everyone and there was also a central screen which was used at various parts during the show too.

The show began in traditional Muppets style as the familiar tune began "It's time to play the music. It's time to light the lights. It's time to meet the Muppets...". There were lots of very familiar songs and sketches drawn from the original Muppet Shows which made this a real trip down memory lane for those of us who had grown up with it.

The opening credit sequence of the Muppet show
It's time to play the music...

The Swedish Chef
The Swedish Chef

The acts included 'Pigs in Space' featuring Peter Davison reprising his Dr Who role and 'The Swedish Chef' featuring the comedian Adam Hills, both of which seemed thrilled to be a part of the show. Anthony Head led a very English reading of Wordsworth's poem 'I wandered lonely as a cloud' which was eventually hijacked by Pepe the King Prawn who turned it into a very surreal rave!

The Muppets Take the 02
Pepe the King Prawn challenges Anthony Head

Bunsen and Beaker
Bunsen and Beaker

Peter Davison and the Muppets in Space
Peter Davison and the Muppets in Space

Steps sing Manha Manha
Steps sing Manha Manha
The 90s pop band Steps came on to sing the Mahna Mahna song. This was underwhelming and they seemed to lack confidence, I felt that those who saw the show on Friday night who got Kylie accompanying this spot instead probably got a far better deal. Perhaps I am biased though as Kylie was the first pop star I really loved as a child.

The use of pre-filmed footage at various points throughout felt at times both essential, especially for those of us at the back, and a bit of a cop out. A film where Fozzie Bear was back stage and got lost on the way to the stage, finding it just in time for the end of the act was funny but a bit of a cheat! I can see though that the production team were really trying to make the show work for a larger venue but there were times when gaps in proceedings made me think they could have done with longer in rehearsal.

Choral singers join Dr Teeth and the Electric Mayhem
Choral singers join Dr Teeth and the Electric Mayhem

The music was by far my favourite bits from the funky 'Dr Teeth and the Electric Mayhem' with Animal rocking out on the drums to the emotion of Kermit performing 'Rainbow Connection' towards the end of the show.

Dr Teeth and the Electric Mayhem
Dr Teeth and the Electric Mayhem
Kermit sings Rainbow Connection
Kermit sings Rainbow Connection

I was really glad we had gone. It was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed seeing the puppeteers at work. Some of them are very familiar names who have been with the Jim Henson Company for many years such as Dave Goelz who previously worked on the original Muppet Shows as well as my favourite Dark Crystal and Labyrinth. The greatest round of applause at the end was rightly for the puppeteers.

Puppeteers in black support the Great Gonzo and a cast of chickens
Puppeteers in black support the Great Gonzo and a cast of chickens

I would love to see a similar show again in a smaller venue and feel more immersed in the action. My 6 year old son really enjoyed it and swayed along through the music. My daughter was, unfortunately, not won over. Perhaps at 10 she feels too old to think watching puppets is cool but is too young to understand why Mum and Dad would want to see a little green frog, a pink pig and an 'animal' rocking out on the drums. However I for oneam glad we didn't miss it!

Animal on drums
Animal on drums




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