After a MUCH too long hiatus, we are back with a reflective podcast on the production of Avenue Q that Matt and Ceris saw in Toronto. Don’t worry, Matt was on the recording controls so Ceris could focus on the drive.
Listen in, and comment on our plans for the future as the team hopes to not be away from the airwaves quite so long!
Miss Piggy’s beauty is undeniable. Mostly because, if you deny it, you get hurt by the Pig. But in this sequence, she really imagines a most elaborate showcase of her beauty. An Esther Williams inspired Water Ballet that would put any old Hollywood producer to great shame.
Frank Oz commented on the shooting of this sequence…
“The water ballet scene with Miss Piggy was really wonderful. I was under the water for a week. I had three days of scuba training and then down I went. Having them swim for the first time really was exciting!” Source: Muppet Wikia - http://muppet.wikia.com/wiki/The_Great_Muppet_Caper
This whole dream sequence is one of my favourites. I think it stems from the fact that Miss Piggy is fantasizing about everyone’s love for her. It’s all about her. The way it should be.
It all starts with Piggy having to replace a model in the swimsuit section of a fashion show. Perfectly plausible, right? Of course right. Especially when she’s being set up for a frame job by the major criminals of the caper – but you’ll need to watch the whole film for those details.
So, the incandescent Pig enters the stage, (much to the chagrin of the designer and her boss, Lady Holiday), but the crowd goes wild. Hog wild! (sorry, I had to…) Or at least that’s what we are led to believe. That’s one of the great things about Miss Piggy’s fantasies, we are never sure what IS real and what is imagined by the Pig. But her confidence in her fantasy is such that we see what the Divine Swine imagines the world feels about her – and then, we end up feeling that way about her. Talk about the power of suggestion!
Happiness, Miss Piggy
One Caress, Miss Piggy
All the world ever wanted way YOU! A dream come true….
What ensues is an elaborate water ballet, that you just have to witness to truly appreciate. I think my favourite moment is the insert of Kermit and Charles Grodin who are “apparently” fighting over her affections. The true tenor of Kermit’s voice gets me every time.
And then…. and then…. well, it ends badly for our heroine. And we see the crowd jump to their feet – not in adoration, but concern. So, I’m always thinking… how much can this gal cram into her imagination in a matter of seconds? It’s pretty amazing what does on in that brain. At what point did they stand? And where does that actually fit in her fantasy sequence?
Ah, who cares? Watch it. It’s awesome.
Check out the design of her swimming costume…. I need personal designers… Anyone? Anyone? Beuller?
Miss Piggy has a tradition of grand dream sequences. Perhaps because her life is a dream? Or because she lives in a dream world? Who cares, really? What’s important is that she has the most fascinating fantasy life. And I’d like to explore that a bit.
Let’s start this series with her first, and possibly most romantic fantasy sequence in film, from The Muppet Movie (1979).
This is the elaborate dream sequence that is accompanied by her phenomenal love song: Never Before, Never Again, written by Paul Williams and Kenny Ascher. She has just won the Ms Bogen County Beauty Pageant and as she begins her acceptance speech, she happens to spy within the vast crowd the Frog of her Destiny – Kermit the…. Her eyes sparkle with adoration and she begins. Big intake of breath and…
Never before….. have two souls joined so freely and so fast…
She launches into the world of her fantasy where she and her Frog are placed in romantic locales and situations. They harken back to great love stories and show us that the Pig has a really vivid imagination. First off, they are running through a meadow towards each other. Piggy tosses aside her basket of wildflowers to run to Kermit. They wrap each other in a warm embrace and then continue travelling in the direction she was going. Kermit is only slightly perplexed at their momentum. The soft focus only adds to the dewy romanticism of their situation.
Next up, the Frog and Pig spend an afternoon on a pond. Rowboat, parasol and period clothing to match the mood. Kermit decides to remove his stand-up collar blue striped shirt, etc. to go for a dip when they pause near a secluded waterfall and Piggy, in her eyelet gown, watches. I gather she didn’t want to swim this time – she saves that for another dream sequence.
Next, Piggy and Kermit have a chance meeting in the fog under a lamppost. She is swathed in furs and he is in his classic trench coat. Simple and evocative. It’s about 14 seconds of film, but it says so much.
Finally, we see them running through another field. They are near a stream or lake. Piggy is complete in her “wench” attire with mop cap and stays, and Kermit is dashing in his poet shirt. They end their joyful romp by snuggling down under the shade of a tree with flowers for their bed. It is the epitome of romance.
The capper to this fantasy is another one of their many wedding sequences. Miss Piggy has had many gowns in her time – and is sure to have more, but this one is a statement in lovely delicacy. Drops of lace surround her pretty porcine face and the flowers are soft pink and white. Kermit looks splendid in his cravat and top hat as they are whisked away on her imagined honeymoon. The details of their getaway are splendid with rice tossed in the air, ribbons and cans and shoes tied to the car and the licence plate reading “I DO 2″.
This sequence really stands the test of time, even though the original impact of the humour may have softened over the years, (much like the soft focus of the filming), it still punctuates and describes their relationship and really sets the standard by which all dream sequences should be judged – whether they include Miss Piggy or some other starlet.
It also serves to give ideas for romantic locations and rendesvous. Go for a run in a meadow – it’s free and you will enjoy it, if the Frog and the Pig are any judge at all.
I don’t know if the message is that we are all supposed to have such a rich fantasy life, or if our fantasies should be as detailed as hers, or if the message is rather, stay focused on your goal and one day it will come to you. She’s still working on snaring that Frog! As we look at other dream sequences, we may discover overt and covert themes. One thing I do know, is the Pig demands an extensive and beautiful wardrobe. So, I’m asking designers out there, why aren’t there lines of clothing for the rest of us that match this quality?
Check it out for yourself at the link below, and imagine, like I do, how much fun it must have to been to write, create, film and edit that sequence?
We are finally back and we have a special treat for you in four parts. Sit back, relax and enjoy as Ceris talks to some actors watching the theatre LYTE production of Alice in Wonderland and then has a chat with Marque, the musical director for Alice in Wonderland. We then take a second to chat with the kids of Gypsy, which is playing now at the Palace Theatre.
We are a few weeks into our process at Original Kids and the troupe is picking up the material quite quickly. When actors are young like that, they are often very sponge-like. The material gets soaked into their brains super fast and with great clarity. So, the director is ploughing ahead with all the blocking and character work and the music director is already reviewing material and refining their singing. This means it’s the choreographer’s turn to jump in there and give the kids some movement vocabulary. Time for something new and fresh and NOT THE SAME AS EVERY OTHER PETER PAN?!?!?!? What?
Yeah, that’s a challenge, you know? Making it fresh and fun and organic when it is for a story that has been told 1000 ways in 1000 different cities with different songs and versions of the story and yet, certain movement just seems to be dictated by the characters, the story and the situations of the Lost Boys, the Indians and the Pirates.
So, what do you do? Do you force choreo into a situation, just so it can be different? Or do you accept your fate and go with the tried and true movement that you know has been done before? Well, for this very youthful version, I opted to go with what is going to work for the performers – and that’s simple, effective and funny choreography and blocking.
Cathy Rigby as Peter Pan
We are already close to having finished the initial blocking and choreo for the show and the kids are loving it. There are a pile of jazz squares, (a move that is classic! – and in this case quite funny) as well as some silly hijinks in the movement, because that is what the director wants. Ms Kerry Hishon enjoys the silly. The sillier the better and for this show and these kids, it really seems to be working.
So, here’s hoping those 7 or 8 jazz squares with the crazy eyes and sparkle fingers work for the audience, too!
The members of TLTDAY have been going in a variety of directions lately and we had to arrange our schedules so we could even find a chance to meet and re-connect, (and even then one member messed up the schedule!). But as a team, we are hoping to reinvigorate our podcast and blog with some new themes and ideas in 2014. So, what is a better way to get the ball rolling than to have a guest blog – from the delightful Kerry Hishon? Read on to see what her suggestions are for reinvigoration…. maybe we’ll even put some ideas to use!
10 Ways to Reinvigorate Your Creativity
It’s January, it’s cold and crummy outside, and you’re feeling uninspired. What’s a creative person to do? Shake things up, of course! If you’re feeling the January blahs, take a look at this list!
Have fun in the snow. Don’t let snow bum you out. Like the song says… “Do you wanna build a snowman?” Help a neighbour shovel out their driveway, or make a fort with your friends. Or draw happy faces with the snow on peoples’ cars! Fresh air will get your muscles moving and your brain thinking!
Immerse yourself in culture. Go see a show or a movie, check out a museum, hit up a concert. Just get out and get inspired!
Plan a creative get-together. Arrange a time to spend time with some of your most creative friends and go get some food and drinks. Leave the cell phones at home.
Revisit a childhood hobby. Colour in a colouring book. Make friendship bracelets. Finger paint. Let yourself reminisce about the good old days.
Get out and about. Go for a walk or a bike ride. Spend some time in nature. Bring your camera and take photos of interesting things you see.
Rest. You may be feeling burnt out – take some time for yourself and take a nap!
Take a class. Is there something you’ve been dying to try? Find a class and sign up! Painting, trapeze, modern dance, Cantonese cooking… there’s something for everyone!
Mix things up. If you’re a costume designer, try volunteering to run lights on the next show. Are you an amazing ASM? Try making props! Are you an actor extraordinaire? Perhaps you’d enjoy being an assistant director!
Do something mundane. Sometimes people get the best ideas when they are doing a seemingly mindless task. Clean the bathroom, cook some soup, sort and de-clutter your craft room. Side benefit: you’ve done something productive!
Make a list of everything you like. No holds barred. Teddy bears, professional wrestling, yellow roses, sailing, dubstep music, fuzzy blankets. Now take the list, cut out each item into small strips, throw them in a hat, and pick out three. Figure out how to combine them in a ridiculous way: a professional wrestler goes sailing with his childhood teddy bear. Now you have the start of a play, story, drawing, improv situation, song… even if it doesn’t work out, you’ve at least written created something!
This is going to be an adventure – hopefully a fun and interesting one, for the actors involved as well as the artistic team. This is, after all, a youth production of a full scale show created on 8 hours of rehearsal per week in a mere 9 weeks.
Working with Original Kids is always an adventure. It’s is always an excercize in flexibility and creativity and Disney’s Peter Pan Jr. will be no exception.
For this project I am the choreographer for approx. 30 wonderful kids between the ages of 7 and 14. This week they came into that first rehearsal with excitement and energy and enthusiasm. They performed their audition pieces with all the professionalism they could muster and they’ve been cast – as fairies, indians, lost boys and pirates and we are off together on our adventure to create this show.
They are going to learn so much from this experience, but it always amazes me just how much I learn from them while going through this process. I suppose that’s part of the draw of theatre, each show and each team of people have something to offer and it is always different. Even if the team is the same, or the show is one you’ve explored before – it is ever changing.
We are back with our friends Joe Recchia and Andrew Rethazi. We talk about the massive creative endeavour that is Oklahoma! presented by Musical Theatre Productions and coming soon to the Palace Theatre. Ceris is directing so the tables are turned as we talk about the motivations behind the show and the challenges it presents. Tune in for an in depth discussion of set design in theatre and the challenges presented to a musical director on such a classic show.
Ceris is off to the Puppeteers of America Festival in Philadelphia, and she is eager to share her experience with you. Tune in to hear all about Ceris’ trip, the people she’s met and the inspiration she’s found.
Tonight was our first foray into a puppet centric event at The Palace Theatre here in London, Ontario.
I don’t know about everyone else, but I had a great time. So many lovely people came to the theatre to make a puppet and to watch puppetry on our big screen. It was a really special evening.
I know the youngest person there was 3, and with some assistance, she made 2 puppets. I’m not going to guess the top age of our guests, but I know we had folks of every category in the theatre and I know that everyone there was definitely young at heart.
There was a young man there, who was so very intent on his creations. He made his own stuff, no matter what. And no matter what, all of his stuff was inspired by Jim Henson’s creations. This young man hasn’t made it to double digits in age yet, but he knows all the shows that Henson ever created, all the guest stars and the performers who are behind, (or underneath) our famous felt friends. He regularly visits fan sites and I watched him draw a Kermit and Piggy and turn them into wonderful shadow puppets within 10 minutes and then perform them against our walls of the lobby. He stayed to enjoy our screening of Being Elmo and was thrilled to watch the show. His mother saw a lot of her son in the explanation of Kevin Clash’s determination to create. I could see it in his eyes and hear it in his voice. This young man will create something wonderful in his lifetime and it will have been largely inspired by the work of Jim Henson.
Another guest happened to be a designer for the new video game of My Muppet Show. It was great to meet him and share with him some of my enjoyment of his creation. He painstakingly worked on his puppet creation and had come prepared with more materials as he knew exactly what he wanted to make – just like our determined fan above. If you’ve not seen his work yet on this great app – then pull out your smart phone and start playing. It’s a great fun, free app!
We only have two more nights of our celebration of puppets, and I sincerely hope that we are financially successful enough to put together something similar next year. It is quite clear that the fans are out there. And I was so honoured to meet them.