Tag Archives: Kermit The Frog

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.

Why the Big Bang girls owe their careers to Miss Piggy…

There are many trailblazers in the world of entertainment – especially for women. They take on new roles, challenge our understanding and break new ground in what is considered phenomenal.

Miss Piggy is one such trailblazer.

When she hit the screen in the 1970s, many actresses had limited choices in their creative output. The secretary, the wife, the sexpot or the matriarch. Miss Piggy came along and redefined all that it meant to be a woman. And now, I believe that the ladies of The Big Bang Theory have her to thank for her trailblazing performances. In fact, I think they owe their roles to her. And considering that their creator Bill Prady got his start with the Henson company, the connections seem even more inevitable.

Let’s examine them, shall we?

Penny: Beautiful, creative, sensitive/over dramatic, fashionista and looking for success.

Bernadette: Sweet, funny, delicate voice, ample bosom and can switch moods on a dime. She even scares some people.

Amy: Awkward, out of the loop, pining for her man.

Miss Piggy: Beautiful, creative, sensitive/over dramatic, fashionista and always looking for success.

Miss Piggy: Sweet, funny, delicate voice, ample bosom and can switch moods on a dime. We know she’s dangerous.

Miss Piggy: Awkward, out of the loop, pining for her man.

At least, she used to be… I guess we will see what Bill Prady and the team have cooked up for our Triple-Threat Diva as the new show comes to the air this fall! There can be no doubt that she will deliver the goods as only she can. Current and future actresses will need to take note of her character range so they can emulate her divine performances!

Will YOU be watching? You know you will.

 

 

Miss Piggy’s MTM Fantasy Sequence: Stop the Adorableness!

Oh Miss Piggy… do you ever stop fantasizing and imagining how perfect your life is?

No, of course you don’t. And why would you, when you are so good at it?

Miss Piggy’s dream sequence in Muppets Take Manhattan (1984) is really superb in the level of fantasy that she creates. It is so excellent that it made her, (and all of her friends), look younger than they’d every looked before – or since! This dream sequence introduced us to the wonderful Muppet Babies, who, for many fans of the Muppets were the first real, lasting introduction to our felted friends.

It is surprising to realize that there is a sort of generation gap between the fans who watched early Sesame Street and the Muppet Show in real time with those who began their watching with Muppet Babies – but it is true and very interesting to me. I think it can somewhat explain how fans who go to the trouble of ranking their favourite Muppet films, (as I do) choose as they do. What you most connect with and what is your entry point into the Muppets can leave a lasting impression that you might not even register consciously.

TMTM-MuppetBabies

When the Muppet Babies first appeared, I was not particularly enamoured of them. I felt they were a bit of a ploy to sell merchandise and I was actually worried that it would mean I’d see less of my beloved muppet friends. Over the years, however, this particular dream sequence has grown on me, for a number of reasons. The performances are great, the puppets are adorable and when I consider what it must have taken to manipulate the smaller puppets, I am even more impressed. Plus, there’s the inside jokes of Kermit riding a tricycle in prep for his later bicycle exploits, Piggy starting life with little purple gloves and Rowlf playing with a stuffed Big Bird.

The sequence also doesn’t age, which in and of itself is kinda funny, but it really doesn’t and it shows how Piggy, (and her writers and handlers), chose wisely in writing and structuring the sequence. They look great, they sound great and the sentiment has stood the test of time – Piggy certainly seems like she will always Love Kermit. She has definitely fulfilled the Movie Star portion of that lyrical promise!

Watch it, and enjoy!

Miss Piggy’s Dream Sequence(s): First in a series

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).

muppetmovieposter

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?

 

 

Spread the love…

In the last little while I’ve had great opportunities to share passion for theatre and things theatrical and creative. We do that on our podcast regularly, but there’s been extensions of late.

A few days ago, my senior students and I traveled to Medway High School to share our plays with other students. The different classes, from almost opposite ends of our school board had finished a unit of playwriting and we created our First Annual Three Way Play Festival! It was great. We arrived, played a drama game and took turns showing off our short plays for each other. Then we had a wonderful lunch, hopped back on the bus and made the long journey back to our school. All the plays were wonderful and all the positive support for the work was great. I know my kids enjoyed visiting another school and making new friends because that was the last thing they were doing, getting in a circle and asking each other questions. They want to do it again next year and they want it to be a whole day. We’ll see what we can arrange.

This week, Shrew’d Business, (my husband and I) are working with the LYTE kids at The Palace. We are providing workshops in beginner techniques in Stage Combat and they are eating it up! At the time of this writing we have one workshop left and you can certainly tell that the kids are excited to learn something new.

Teaching how to safely pull someone’s hair. See the smiles?

And last weekend, I shared with friends how to make a “muppety” monster puppet. Seven new puppets came into the world and they all had so much fun. The energy was completely infectious and the delight they each had when they made a new piece of their puppet was heavenly. Such a wonderful thing to share. We shared some pics on the social media(s) and the response was equally positive. It looks like I’ll be doing more of the same in future months! Happy to do so!

A collage of creatures. Thanks to Kerry Hishon for the pics!

The thing with spreading the love is, you get more of it back – just the thing we all need, right?

“I’ve got a dream too. But it’s about singing and dancing and making people happy. That’s the kind of dream that gets better the more people you share it with. And well, I’ve found a whole bunch of friends who have the same dream. And it kind of makes us like a family.”

Kermit the Frog

Muppet Central Radio Game

Here’s a little game I play, with myself… (don’t be dirty)

I like to put on the Muppet Central Radio channel when I’m working on some chores. You know, the dishes, laundry, whatever. Something that would be great fun on Sesame Street, but at home, by yourself, it’s mundane and depressing. Then I play a little game.

First, I have to be a distance from the computer or my phone – which is easy, cause I’m busy doing some chore. But as each song comes on, without looking, I run through as many details of the tune as I can possibly think of whilst listening. Now sometimes this is easy. For example when the Oscar winning Man or Muppet is played, I can remember who wrote it, for what purpose, who sang it (character and performer), and of course the scene plays in my mind. And I sing along at the top of my lungs.

Sometimes it’s not so easy. For example, I may hear what is unmistakably Jim Henson’s voice, but at first listen it may be difficult to tell if the character is Kermit or Ernie – he’s not given away a tell tale character giggle yet or said “Hi Ho!” So, without looking, I try to decipher the setting, the character and everything I can from simply listening. It’s also fun when a “What-not” song comes along, to determine which character is Jerry Nelson, Richard Hunt or Louise Gold, etc. Or, when it is clearly an Ernie and Bert segment – is it Jim & Frank or Steve & Eric, etc. Again, often easy, but still enjoyable.

This evening a segment from an early Veterinarian’s Hospital came on, and without Piggy actually before my eyes to distract me with her beauty, it was so easy to tell that the voice was Richard Hunt. This is, of course, how I knew it was an early episode.

I do frequently check to see how close I am in my guesses and what info might be there on the station, but if I’m stumped, then there’s always the good ol’ reliable Muppet Wiki to help me along. If you’ve never explored the Muppet Wiki – you are in for a treat!

It’s a simple and fun trivia-esque game that would be hard to play with another person – unless they were in the room with you, as their load rates could be different and they might be one song ahead or behind you – should you ever try to play this with someone while chatting or skypeing. Just a thought.

But of course, no one out there is quite as nerdy as I. Are they?

Let me know if you are.

The Muppets in Montreal!

Tomorrow, (or much later today), I travel to Montreal. Now, this is a lovely thing to do at any time of the year and for any reason, but this time I am going to see The Muppets perform live-for the second time this year. If someone had told me a year ago that I’d be doing this now, I’m not sure I’d have believed them. Not the part about me traveling to see them, that is certainly plausible. But more the fact that the opportunity exists for me to see them in person.

I am wondering what they will do. I am wondering who will be there and I’m wondering how I will react. I know I was overwhelmed at the last performance. It was truly profound and I am hoping for something similar this time. It is fairly safe to say that, if Kermit appears and tells a joke or sings, I will be overcome. But I am very interested to see what this Just For Laughs performance will be like. Much different from the celebration of Jim Henson that occurred in Carnegie Hall, I’m sure. For one, they have not recommended the show for anyone younger than 16, I believe. These are comics after all, so it probably won’t be a lot of Sesame Street Skits. Which wouldn’t be right anyway, as they are owned by a different company. Regardless, it is sure to be a special experience. Certainly cost more than Carnegie Hall. But I’ll bet it will be worth it. Besides, a short holiday in Montreal is never a bad thing.

Wish me luck on this new adventure. I’ll tell you all about it as it happens.