Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Host John Tartaglia sings with some of the Fraggles.
Photo Credit: Richard Termine

Earlier this year, when I first got wind of the news that there would be a tribute to the musical world of Jim Henson, I knew I had to be there.  If you've watched  any of Jim Henson's films and television shows, you know that MUSIC played an integral role to his productions. Plus, how often does a person get to see the whole lot of the Muppets perform alongside of the New York Pops and singing group Essential Voices USA? 

As the big day of Jim Henson's Musical World approached, the excitement ramped up.  Since the original posting of the event, Carnegie had added a long list of special guests and performers, including comic Rachel Dratch;  Avenue Q performer John Tartaglia (who hosted the event); Elmo's Muppeteer and Sesame Street Co-Producer Kevin Clash; singer/songwriter Paul Williams; past and present cast of Sesame.

Carnegie Hall, here I come!

On the way over to the show, my husband and I both recognized Tau Bennett, the boy who appeared in Being Elmo because he had been mentored by master Muppeteer Kevin Clash. Tau was walking toward Carnegie Hall with his family.  Something about seeing Tau, and knowing he had traveled from Atlanta to be here for this occasion, caused a wave of emotion to wash over me.  Seeing him made me think about the way the branches of Henson's legacy continue to reach out and out and out into multiple generations, into so many homes, hearts, and lives, into hundreds of countries around the globe.

After spotting Tau, Mike and I walked into a small cafe for a pre-show snack.  There, we saw two children and their mom talking excitedly about all the Muppets they would be seeing.  Also eavesdropping on the family were two young men, who, judging by their matching all-black outfits, would be singing in the show.  I approached them and struck up a conversation.  "It really didn't hit us what we were going to be part of until we saw them [the Muppets] coming onto the stage today," they said.  "Yeah," Mike and I replied,"You should see the huge crowd of people waiting in the lobby!"

Once seated in Carnegie Hall,  I could see some of the folks from the Jim Henson Legacy milling around, including the show's writer, Craig Shemin.  I imagined he might be kind of nervous, seeing as how this was a never-been-done before kind of performance with lots of people waiting to see what would happen.

What did happen was absolutely magnificent.

Jim Henson's Musical World  began with footage of Muppet Rowlf the Dog's appearance at Carnegie Hall in 1965.  Then, good old Rowlf appeared in the flesh (or should I say in the fur), saying how he was glad to be back after 47 years.

Other folks eventually joined Rowlf, including Maestro Steven Raneke and the show's host, John Tartaglia.

Muppets Statler and Waldorf made an early appearance from their seats in the balcony, doing what they do best - heckling folks on the stage!

Here are some of the highlights from the rest of the show:
  • The theme song from The Muppet Show, performed by Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem.
  • Footage of Jim Henson
  • The Fraggles singing Pass It On
  • Cookie Monster Singing C is for Cookie
  • Ernie and friends crooning Rubber Duckie (with Elmo providing the "Squeak! Squeak" sound of the duck)
  • Muppets & humans singing Just One Person  (a song sung at Jim Henson's funeral)
The real tear-jerker came when a whole bunch of people and Muppets sang Rainbow Connection.  There were few dry eyes in the audience.

I was elated to be at this monumental event where Muppets and people from all arms of Jim Henson's legacy came together to carry his message forward through music.

I have a feeling this is only just the beginning of more great things to come.

For more coverage of Jim Henson's Musical World, check out these articles:

Muppet Wiki: Jim Henson's Musical World
Entire Muppet clan reunites for "Jim Henson's Musical World" concerts at Carnegie Hall
Can You Tell Me How to Get, How to Get to Carnegie Hall?
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