To put it in short: “Fireworks Finale: The Muppets Take the Bowl” was one of “the most sensational, inspirational, celebrational, Muppetational” live theater show I’ve ever experienced.
For just three special performances on September 8th, 9th, and 10th, The Muppets took over The Hollywood Bowl, a legendary historic venue that’s hosted famous artists including Yo-Yo Ma, Fred Astaire and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and now…the Muppets! As a major Muppet fan, this show was a dream come true. It had the classic, corny jokes we’ve always loved, as well as quirky and timely pop culture mentions that make the cast more relevant for a modern audience while keeping the heart that makes The Muppets so lovable. It made my heart happy to see not just adult fans, but multiple generations, enjoying the Muppets fun antics for the more than two-hour performance.
The opening “Muppet Show Theme Song” set the tone for the rest of the night— it was at that moment we knew we were in for a treat. Host and Saturday Night Live alumni Bobby Moynihan fit in as a fellow fanboy and acted as perfect comedic support for the Muppets. You could tell this was truly a passion project for him, which made his performance that much more enjoyable. His comedic timing and enthusiasm make him the absolute perfect fit to work alongside The Muppets.
The show fell in line with the classic run of The Muppet Show, with updated classic segments including “Veterinarian’s Hospital,” (featuring Danny Trejo) and “Pigs in Space,” (which had a hilarious Echo/Siri call-out), a ‘Muppet Labs’ demonstration and a Swedish Chef segment with Bobby Moynihan. The Netflix-style segment, ‘The MuppFronts”, garnered plenty of laughs, featuring parody bits like “The Walking Bread,” (a parody of The Walking Dead starring The Swedish Chef) and “Keeping Up With the Crustaceans” (A Keeping Up With the Kardashians parody starring Pepé the King Prawn). The timely pop culture tie-ins continued with a rendition by Rowlf of Johnny Cash’s “I’ve Been Everywhere,” and included some hilarious Los Angeles call-outs.
And what’s a Muppets show without a performance by Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem? Floyd Pepper and Janice led a loving rendition of “Home,” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros while being total and complete couple goals. To the audience’s delight, they even jammed out and played David Bowie’s “Suffragette City,” and Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” There were classic Muppet bits of course, including The Muppet Show musical numbers, Happy Feet and Mahna Mahna, and a re-creation of the world-famous ‘Good Grief, The Comedian’s A Bear!’ sketch between Fozzie Bear and guest host Bobby Moynihan.
Oh, how could I forget the musical stylings of the ever-present and demanding diva Miss Piggy? She took on a medley of Adele songs, including “Hello” and was, as usual, a hot mess of fabulous. The entire show rang true to the longevity and quirkiness of the Muppets. Where else but a Muppets show can a prawn take on the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra’s conductor Thomas Wilkins and morph Beethoven’s Fifth into a Latin dance number? Only the Muppets could pull that off so spectacularly, and the performers behind the show pulled it off flawlessly. The puppetry was so spectacular and flawless, that the magic of the Muppets was recaptured so wonderfully and brilliantly even in a show that’s so complex and difficult to pull off.
Around me, kids and adults alike were smiling ear to ear and laughing the entire night. The overall feeling of the audience was summed up best when Kermit took the stage, or log, rather, for his iconic song written by Paul Williams and Kenny Ascher, “Rainbow Connection.” To add even more excitement, he was then joined on-stage by the one and only Paul Williams, Moynihan and the rest of the Muppets gang in a sentimental sing-along of the classic song. It was a complete tearjerker, to say the least and it was a moment that certainly touched the hearts of so many in the audience. The show then wrapped up with a fireworks finale, and then an encore appearance by Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem, ending off with a beautiful rendition of “A Little Help from My Friends” by The Beatles.
The spectacular performance that was “The Muppets Take the Bowl” makes me incredibly excited to see what else may be in store for the Muppets in the future. At a point where the fate of the franchise may have been uncertain, this performance shows that despite when the studio is having trouble understanding the characters, the franchise is always a the top of their game. Whether it means a return to TV, the silver screen or the stage, the Muppets are striking the perfect balance between classic Muppet antics and modern pop culture, and I can’t wait to see more from them, and hope that “The Muppets Take the Bowl” is just the beginning of a very promising future.
All photos courtesy of The Muppets on Twitter.