Tag Archives: Disney

Losing Steve Whitmire

I’m not going to sugar coat this post. I can’t. If your opinion is different from mine, I respect that and your thoughts, but I’m going to say what I feel on this abrupt and painful event that has occurred this week.

In 1990, we lost Jim Henson. That was enormous. I was depressed and in denial for ages. I was in denial until Steve Whitmire and the Muppet/Henson team brought back the beloved Frog. Then, I began to feel better and heal. Steve Whitmire brought back hope and love and laughter when I thought it was gone.

He has done so for 27 years. He has done so while he was hurting. Far more than I could ever imagine. I lost a hero. He had to try to REPLACE his hero. I’m my eyes, he succeeded. I’ve been lucky enough to see him perform live. He’s tremendous. I’ve heard stories of what he is like to work with and to meet. He’s delightful.

No one can deny his skill, talent or dedication. No one.

And yet, Disney has seen fit to summarily dismiss him from his roles with The Muppets. His job since he was 19. His only dream as a youth. Over 40 years. People is that excellence and expertise are generally given lavish celebrations and opportunities to have retirements when they choose. They are also, frequently, given extra benefits to their contracts and perks that younger, newer folks generally would need to “pay their dues” to receive.

Steve didn’t receive these. Steve was quietly and abruptly dismissed. People noticed. People talked. People missed him. And then, a quiet little announcement came out with very few details that he was gone.

Think about this for a moment… when there’s a new Bond or Doctor Who, the outgoing actor, writer, director for the show is given a fanfare, a special episode, and loads of attention and appreciation.

WHY would Steve not merit, at the very least, something like that? Disney is hoping this change will be quiet. They are hoping we will all move on, and that most won’t even notice. After 40 years of dedicated and excellent service, this is an appalling way to say farewell to any performer, regardless of what the reasons for the departure may be. This is APPALLING AND SHAMEFUL.

Dear Steve, (in case you see this), THANK YOU. Thank you for restoring my faith, for healing my loss and for making millions of people happy for over 40 years. You have been brilliant. I cannot even begin to imagine how difficult this role (and this period of time) has been for you, but you are a star. And regardless of anything hanging onto this controversy, I feel that you deserve the appreciation of our planet. At the very least, know you have mine.

Thank you, Steve.

Journey to Neverland: Second to the Right and straight on til…. March Break

Disney’s Peter Pan Jr.

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.

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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.

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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.

What a great life lesson.

So, here we go… Off to Neverland!

Podcast #8 with Special Guest Steve Swanson!

It’s double your pleasure, double your fun this week as we say happy birthday to both Walt Disney and our very own Ceris Thomas!  This time we interview web designer, musician and fellow podcaster Steve Swanson of the MuppetCast!  Steve talks with us about his love of the Muppets and Disney and what drives him to share his love with the world.  Steve is the inspiration for our own little podcast and we are very excited to have him on.  Also stay tuned at the end for a moving rendition of “Sing” from Sesame Street, featuring Steve on piano and vocals and Ceris, Luke and Kerry on vocals!  Let us know what you think in the comments, we’d love to here from you!

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