Last year, Alex Timbers staged a concept presentation for a Muppet stage show at the New Amsterdam Theatre, causing Muppet fans everywhere to give an ecstatic Kermit arm-flail.
With Muppets Most Wanted opening on Friday, March 21, I thought it would be fun to speculate about a Muppet stage musical. Who would direct it? Who would write the music and the script? Which Broadway superstars would make an appearance, and most importantly, what role would Miss Piggy play? Read on, and check back all this week for more on our dream Muppet stage show.
Dream Director: Alex Timbers
I don’t know who picked Alex Timbers to put together the concept presentation, but I want to shake their hand. They got it right.
For those unfamiliar with Timbers’ career, some of his more recent and notable productions have been Here Lies Love at the Public Theater, Peter and the Starcatcher which closed at the New World Stages in January after a successful run at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson at the Public Theater and Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, The Pee-Wee Herman Show at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre, and Rocky which just opened last week at the Winter Garden Theatre. In the past few years, he has tackled immersive theater, old-fashioned Victorian-style storytelling, political satire, a puppet-heavy comedy-variety show, and big-budget mega-musicals. Why not direct a Muppet musical?
The Muppets have pushed themselves from a production stand-point ever since Kermit rode a bicycle in The Muppet Movie. Timbers also likes to push himself and his team in what they can re-create on stage or evoke in the audience’s imagination, from Rocky’s final fight to the adventures of the Lost Boys in Peter and the Starcatcher. A Muppet stage show will need a creative leader who is willing to take risks and push the puppeteer’s limits but won’t lose the show’s story and heart in the process. Timbers has proven he can handle it.
Finally, all of Timbers’ shows have a deep love and appreciation for the medium of live theater, a value also shared by the Muppets. The Muppet Show was all about the joys, struggles, and magnificent failures that happen when a crazy cast of characters try to put on a show. The Muppet Movie has cameos by former vaudeville stars Edgar Bergen and Milton Berle, and the plot of Muppets Take Manhattan is literally the Muppets putting on a show and trying to make it on Broadway. Fozzie Bear is based on vaudevillian entertainers. Gonzo is an old-timey daredevil, and Miss Piggy is a classic high-maintenance prima donna. It makes all the sense in the world to pair the Muppets who are based on theater archetypes with a director like Timbers who pays tribute to classic theatrical storytelling in shows like Peter and the Starcatcher and then redefines what theater can be in shows like Here Lies Love and Hell House. Like Jim Henson himself, he celebrates the past while also embracing the future, and if the show moves forward, I believe he would be the perfect choice to direct.
Alex Timbers is my pick for directing a Muppet stage show, but what is your pick? Leave a comment below, and let me know what you think! If you like the blog, please share it on Facebook and Twitter, and follow us on Twitter @LudusNYC! We post Broadway ticket lottery times daily, and you can find links to all our blogs, news, and show information!