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Your Thoughts: Emmet Otter Musical

Discussion in 'Family Worlds' started by Phillip, Dec 7, 2008.

  1. Phillip Administrator

    The Emmet Otter musical has now premiered at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, Connecticut. The show will be performed from today through January 4.

    If you're lucky enough to see the show in person, please post a detailed review here. We'd love to hear as much as possible about this anticipated musical. Hopefully more of the music will surface on-line as well.

    Here's a great insider's article on the show that's a must read...

    http://www.muppetcentral.com/news/2008/120708.shtml

    To purchase tickets and view official media, go here...

    http://www.goodspeed.org/shows_more.aspx?id=1024

    Several songs from the musical sung by Paul Williams ("Alice Keep Dreaming" and "Waterville") are also now playing on Muppet Central Radio during the holidays.

    http://www.muppetcentral.com/radio/
  2. Koozbanian Anna New Member

    I just purchased tickets to see it on 12/23. I paid a little extra for the VIP package, which gets you really good seats and special Emmet Otter hot chocolate mugs. :) I can't wait!
  3. TommyTheMad New Member

    I wish I could go to see this.

    I bought the DVD and remembered it from when I was a kid. It still brings tears to my eyes at points just watching it.

    Even if it was only a tenth of how good the show was, it would be better than most of the Christmas stuff out there.
  4. TeacherLady New Member

    My review and experience

    It's a tad long and I tend to use a few sweary words on my blog, so please excuse both facts... But here are my review, thoughts, and experiences on going to opening night.
  5. KerMatttheFrog New Member


    TeacherLady: Thanks for a great review that sounded straight from a theater magazine. I really do want to see the show and know its not a terribly bad 2 hour drive for me.

    I understand how you felt with Jerry Nelson. I think these Muppeteers DO realize the amazing connection their work has to their fans. Don't beat yourself up about it. Deep down inside Jerry has to know that your request for an autograph was based on years of appreciation for his work. I doubt he was upset at the minor inconvenience.:sing::batty:
  6. Winslow Leach Active Member

    Very nice review! I live a little more than an hour from Goodspeed, and have seen a few shows there. Gaaah! I would have loved to have been there opening night!:cool:

    Several shows were birthed at Goodspeed before heading to Broadway, including Annie and Man of La Mancha.
  7. TeacherLady New Member

    Wow, that's pretty impressive since both of those are pretty big shows... What a charming theater. I tried to admire their two Tony awards but my daughter had disappeared around the corner and I didn't fancy hearing anything go "crash-tinkle-tinkle".

    One other thing, the merchandise (while limited) was actually quite reasonably priced, which was a big plus I forgot to mention.
  8. FaerieLuna New Member

    Just awesome!

    I drove six hours to see the musical and it was worth every minute as well as every penny I spent on the tickets for my husband and I. Words can't describe the joy I felt at reliving one of my favorite memories from childhood. Back in the days before VCRs and TIVO, I would wait in anticipation for it to come on HBO every Christmas and would watch it as many times as I could catch it during its holiday run. After all these years, I still remembered all the song lyrics and still had tears in my eyes during "When the River Meets the Sea." The cast gave a stellar performance I thoroughly enjoyed. I hope it becomes a yearly event!
  9. Fozzie Bear Moderator

  10. Phillip Administrator

    Yes, what a great opportunity for Henson to release an Emmet-Otter Musical DVD and/or CD for those of us who can't make it.
  11. KerMatttheFrog New Member

    I have tickets for December 26th.... I can't wait!
  12. drteethsdentist New Member

    I drove three hours to see it. Overall it was a great show and a great experience. The theatre is beautiful.

    I must say it was much more up-beat than the HBO special. I remember watching it as a kid and really feeling pity for Emmet and Ma otter with the focus being on Emmets deceased father.

    At the theatre, it seemed like more of a mother-son bonding theme.

    Anyway, they played almost every “classic” scene. Even the scene of them sliding down the slide like Pa used to.

    And the production was great. Most of it was live but there were a few scenes when the actual puppets from the original special scrolled across the stage.

    I was talking to the woman at the gift shop and she told me that they were the originals.

    Seeing them in real life was something special. After having grown up watching Emmet Otter every Christmas eve with my sisters and cousins, it was truly something special.


    Kudos to all that made this happen.
  13. peyjenk New Member

    I wish I could see it... a cast recording would be nice and a DVD would be even better. :)
  14. KerMatttheFrog New Member

    Tonight was amazing!

    I saw the show and was simply blown away. Daniel Reichard was out and his understudy Daniel Torres (who some of you may have seen as Harvey Beaver) was in as Emmet. As a result Matthew Furtado played Harvey.

    A few random thoughts:

    I expected the theater to be bigger than it was. This made the fact that my "near the back" seats only 13 rows from the stage so awesome. I *think* it maybe sits a full house of 400 and pretty much is full for every show.

    The initial impression (aside from theater size) was based on the trees and scenery present at the start. Trees, a map of Frogtown Hollow and River Bottom, and birds chirping over the theater music. I was instantly mystified and regressed to childhood. Magic...

    Everyone's initial thoughts on Jane and her way of being put in the story seems on target. She doesn't hurt the story one bit. She is quite good and fits well.

    The squirrels are LOL funny. Tyler Bunch is very obvious when one of them sounds EXACTLY like Treelo from Bear in the Big Blue House.

    All of the scenes were very well done and its very easy to lose the costumed characters into your memory of the puppets of the original.

    Wendell Porcupine & Charlie Muskrat were ESPECIALLY on target. Whenever Wendell would talk, I would chuckle because his character was so dead on to the original Wendell performance.

    The Nightmare Band was incredible... Catfish & Snake are fantastic. This was just another example of how good the intergration of puppetry and actors was spot on. Doc Bullfrog and Old Lady Possum were also great performances.

    Seeing the original puppets make appearances was a "fan boy geek out" moment personally.

    Mrs. Mink's talent show number.... WOW... I'm just sayin...

    Some of the puppetry happens on the sides and floor of the stage. Some is hard to catch depending on your location or your height.

    As magical as the show was, the way I suddenly was sucked INTO the second half and felt like I was in Frogtown Hollow's theater as an audience member of the talent competition (as opposed to an audience member of this show) was wonderful. Suspension of disbelief in such a show is a typical duty of an audience member. IN these scenes, at times you almost forgot it was a show you were watching and felt it was a show you were IN!

    The Goodspeed staff were friendly and talkative. They provided cushions for the smaller guests to help them "get a boost" to see in the theater. The bar served themed egg nog and hot chocolate (coined "Riverbottom Nightmare Blend").

    Souvenirs available were really nice red Emmet Otter mugs, Blue logo hooded sweatshirts, the re-issue of the DVD (minus Kermit), and poster flats for the show. I picked up one of the posters signed by the entire cast to be framed and hung in my office.


    If I had the opportunity, I'd go ten more times this run of it. I hope you all get a chance to see the show. If it does become a semi-regular show, which I heard is a possiblity, it would not be a bad idea to even make plans to travel a bit to see the show. I'm not one who is usually emotional during plays and movies, but this one had some really great moments that choked me up.

    An EASY home run, 5*, A+ production.
  15. vettech28 Active Member

    It would be great to release a CD with the recordings from the original HBO special. The songs from the special would be great additions to my MP3 player.
  16. Wiseman Member

    Hope it comes to NYC soon

    Since I don't have a car I can't get to Connecticut, however this idea sounds great. If it comes to NYC I might go see it.:excited: Dang no Otter smiley
  17. Review of Show Dec. 28th

    I went to go see the show on last Sunday on December 28th, and let me just say I loved every minute of it. I live about 2 hours away in Massachusetts and decided to call the theater on a Lark the night before to see if they had any tickets left. I am SO glad I did. Turns out they had one seat second row center, :D so I quickly scooped it up and planed for my day in East Haddam. All my friends thought I was crazy to spend $60 for a puppet show, so I went alone, but who needs em? They just don't understand.

    I am an avid theatre goer, particularly puppet shows and children's theatre as that it what I am majoring in at West Virginia University, and let me just say, this was the greatest theatre experience of my life!

    I could go on for pages, but here are a few of my most prevalent thoughts:

    Music was absolutely fantastic. Paul Williams was completely on point for this one. All the new songs had the same spirit and charm of the original special.

    Costume, sets, and puppets were wonderful. I purposely refused to re-watch the special before going, which was a great idea. I hadn't seen it in a few years, but the minute the show started I was completely amazed at how much the characters looked as I remembered them, and suck you right into the world of the show.

    Obviously the puppetry was going to be fantastic with Henson puppeteers on board, but still I was stunned at how great it really was. The squirrels had me hurting so much I was laughing so hard. I didn't realize until I read this thread that they used some of the original puppets, I was just so excited to see what I thought were very accurate remakes, but knowing that they were original makes things so much cooler. The highlight of my night, however was when Catfish sprayed the water out of his mouth into the audience, and I got it clear in the face. I just couldn't believe I was spat on by a Henson puppet. IT WAS SO COOL!:excited:

    I was a bit wary about the whole Jane angle when it was first introduced, but my fears were completely for naught as it really did not detract at all from the integrity of the piece and I think even added a little something special that the younger audience members really appreciated.

    ALL the acting was absolutely phenomenal, but with Broadway actors, Henson puppeteers, and the pilgrim from the snickers feast commercials, what else would you expect. hehe.

    I'm not sure if anyone else mentioned this yet or not, so I think I will. One of the things that hit me as I read the program was that they were saying that the reason they picked the Goodspeed was because the opera house and location itself really resembled the world of the play, and I couldn't agree more. I was by myself with about 3 hours to kill before the show so I just meandered the streets of east haddam for a bit, and its amazing how you feel like you are in frogtown hollow, with the river running through, the quaint little buildings, including and pre-revolutionary war schoolhouse, and the large 19th century opera house along the river banks. They could not have picked a more appropriate location to premier this fantastic show.

    My only regret was that I was not able to bring any of my younger family members along with me as it was such a great children's piece I'm sure they would have loved it. It truly was a piece of quality family entertainment with something for everyone. In today's day and age that can be said about very few things. :super:

    I would go back and see this show a hundred times over.

    Overall: A+++ 110%
  18. Winslow Leach Active Member

    I agree. East Haddam is beautiful.:)
  19. Gruntberg New Member

    It is really difficult to put into words just how amazing I found the recent Emmet Otter musical to be. You see, Emmet Otter has been something of an obsession of mine since I was a little kid. I fondly remember scouring the old HBO December program guide to figure out how many times my favorite Christmas special would be on. Hey, don’t get me wrong, I love Charlie Brown and the Grinch; however, Emmet Otter just struck a special chord in my heart. Then one year, Emmet and his mother were gone. For whatever reason, the special was never given its due as a true holiday classic. Since its arrival on VHS and then DVD, I (like many others) have been on something of a spiritual quest to spread the word of Emmet to as many friends and family as possible. Along the way, I have come to learn that I am not alone in my devotion the good folks of Frogtown Hollow. In fact, there are many others out there who like me, planned their childhood Christmases around Emmet. While, we have been waiting for the Henson’s and Disney to set their differences aside and deliver a pristine edition of the original special to the people (with Kermit and all the additional dialogue restored), we have been granted a special present. The stage adaptation of Emmet Otter’s Jug band Christmas is a holiday gift like no other. Of course, I had my early reservations. How does one remake or adapt a classic? How can they expand upon what is basically a fifty minute production and not lose all that is quaint and oh so perfect already. Well, the Henson’s have done it. They, along with Paul Williams and the rest of the writing and production crew have put together a wonderful classic, destined to become a holiday tradition for a whole new generation on Emmit-ites as well as old timers such as myself.

    I too, had some early trepidation about the whole Jane and her Dad angle. Again, I must just say that the crew hit just the right notes. Were they to have expanded upon the basic concepts of the story they would have risked affecting the integrity of the original special. However, by introducing Jane and her father they were able to creatively build upon an already rich territory. The bottom line is that they had to expand upon the storyline and this was the most effective and least obtrusive way to do so. Another misstep could have been in the addition of new songs. Had they brought in just any tunesmith things could have easily gone astray. Let’s face it, no one can write with the sensibility of a muppet like Paul Williams. He looks like he could have been assembled in the Henson workshop himself (and I mean that in a good way). All the new songs are perfect and stand proudly along those we already know and love.

    I would also like to commend the company for its brilliant integration of puppetry and live actors sharing the same stage. They complimented one another brilliantly. The single greatest moment of this past Christmas for me was seeing the original Emmet & Ma’ Otter puppets rowing across the stage. I had not expected that and it was like seeing a couple of old friends that you haven’t seen in many years. I must admit it choked me up and brought a tear to my eye.

    The Goodspeed Opera house proved to be the perfect setting for bringing this show to life. Other posts have deftly pointed this out. I too felt as if I were in the audience for the first annual Waterville talent show. The squirrels, the husband & wife dancing rabbits and John Deer (the new guy) were all fantastic. When the Riverbottom Nightmare Band hit the stage the audience was blown away. Had I been wearing a scarf and hat I would have been tempted to toss them gleefully into the air like in the original special (however, like in the original, I still felt that Ma’ Otter carried the night musically). I fervently hope that Emmet Otter becomes a tradition at Goodspeed. I have already begun to feel quite territorial over the production. I would hate to think that we were merely a test audience to see if the play was worthy of Broadway. That is not to say that I do not want to see Emmet succeed on a larger level, I do. The more people exposed to the play and its teachings the better. However, I still want to see it play at Goodspeed at Christmas time. Having it play there in early October before moving on to New York could prove a bit of a let down. However, if I and my wife must travel to New York to see it than that is what we will have to do. I encourage anyone who loved the production in East Haddam and would like to see it become an annual tradition to let your feelings be known to the Henson’s as well as the folks at Goodspeed.

    The past couple of Christmases have been rough for me and my wife. We have had to deal with a great deal of loss which has tempered our holiday celebrations. Being able to see this beautiful production in such a warm and intimate setting has brought upon something of a healing process for my little family. I love all Christmas specials. However, Emmet Otter will always stand out above the crowd as far as I am concerned. Its message of love and family and the belief in one another is truly the embodiment of the Christmas spirit. I for one believe in the power of Emmet.
  20. vettech28 Active Member

    Hey, Gruntberg. I also have a love of Emmet Otter's Jug-band Christmas. I wish I came to see the stage adaptation. By the time it started, I was in college in Pennsylvania and came home to South Carolina for Christmas so I wasn't able to go see it, plus I don't think I could afford it anyway. Like you, I think Emmet Otter is a true, blue holiday classic. Anyway, glad you joined the forum of fellow Muppet lovers.

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