Describing a gig at the O2 featuring hit singles and a star-studded list of surprise guests implies a Taylor Swift concert; – in reality, it was the Muppets who ‘took the O2’ last night. Written by Kirk Thatcher, Jim Lewis, Andrew Williams and Matthew Barnette, it is a follow-up on the trio performance at the Hollywood Bowl last year. Additional performers at the O2 include Tyler Bunch, Ryan Dillon, Tim Lagasse and Noel MacNeal. It is for the first time ever in the UK that Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy invite to their Muppet varietés.
On the backdrop of a derailed show – without a Plan B (Paul McCartney with Bees, apparently), Plan A, or even a solid Plan C, the stage manager and Kermit try to make the best of a bad situation and ensure that their British audience is entertained with an array of musical performances, dance and sketches. Always at their side is American actor and comedian Bobby Moynihan.
Highlights include Kermit tap dancing, Kylie Minogue adding popglamour to ‘Mahna Mahna’, Charles Dance’s rendition of Wordsworth (made ‘disco’ by Pepé the King Prawn) and last but certainly not least, David Tennant starring as the 10th Doctor in an all-new episode of ‘Pigs in Space’.
Centre piece to the sketches are the Muppet band ‘Dr Teeth and The Electric Mayhem’ (starring, of course, drummer Animal). A personal high point of the show is the Swedish Chef’s attempt at Haggis as assisted by Kevin Bishop – it’s easily one of the funniest things I have ever seen in my entire life (very much not a hyperbole). There is an incredible amount of love in the air – on stage, in a show that celebrates friendship and inclusiveness, and it radiates from the beaming audience young and old. Attendees are undoubtedly excited for this event, with doors opening a whooping 1 ½ hours before the show and people still queuing to take their seats up to ten minutes in.
The Muppets are full of heart and humour, so it is easy to see why, but it is still astonishing how much recognisable star-power those puppets by the late Jim Henson wield. This first ever European performance (even though, fun fact, the original Muppet Show was filmed in Elstree Studios) is on for a strictly limited run of two nights. Given the immense production value it is no wonder. The show is specifically tailor-made to the British audience, ranging from a quick joke about the football Worldcup to extended musical numbers about London by Rowlf the Dog. Puppeteers are visible at most times, but adding rather than retracting charm and magic. The live elements are neatly interwoven with large screen displays and pre-recorded video intermissions. The keen eye for detail and artistry on stage was rightfully lauded with standing ovations.
Moi loved every second of it, and will for sure keep an eye out for all future Muppet Shows ever again anywhere within reach.
Reviewed by Lisa Theresa Downey-Dent
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