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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Rewind 2012: Feeling all warm and fuzzy at magical Muppets gala


The cast of the Muppets perform during the
Just for Laughs gala hosted by the Muppets,
 in Montreal on Thursday July 26, 2012.
Gazette journalists share their memories of 2012.

MONTREAL - I had what, for many, might have been a difficult choice to make on July 26: join a group of friends to catch that night’s sold-out Coldplay concert from a loge at the Bell Centre, or go see The Muppets host a Just for Laughs gala at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier of Place des Arts.

But with all due respect to Chris Martin and Co., it was a pretty easy choice for me.
It’s become almost a cliché to proclaim one’s adoration for Jim Henson’s marvellous Muppets. There may be no more unanimously beloved popular culture figures than Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie and friends. And that affection seems to span generations, from toddlers to those who would make even Statler and Waldorf seem spry. Being smack-dab in the middle of that age spectrum, the Muppets have been a regular presence in my life. There’s no quicker pick-me-up for me than watching the classic Muppet Show or The Muppet Movie (the first film I ever saw in a theatre, by the way.)

Still, my elation at the festival’s announcement that it had snagged the Muppets for an exceptionally rare live performance at this summer’s Just for Laughs was tempered with some trepidation. Would seeing the Muppets in the fuzz somehow diminish them in my eyes? What if the show sucked? Would that tarnish the countless fond memories of the Muppets that I have lived with all these years?
As it turned out, that fear could not have been less founded. The Muppets Gala was the most magical evening of entertainment I experienced all year: from the Swedish Chef whipping up “pewtine” to Beaker being transformed into Youppi! to Statler and Waldorf ripping on the show live from the balcony, it was an expertly constructed and satisfying gala — the made-for-Montreal Muppet Show many of us had dreamed of. (There were also human comics on the gala’s bill, of course, but I’m sure even they would concede that they were mere accoutrements for the Muppet segments.)

Did I shed a tear at the timeless singalong of Rainbow Connection that ended the show? No — I swear! — but only because I’m not a crier. The performance provided an emotional high point to a show with no shortage of unforgettable moments. And I mean that literally: I’m sure no one who experienced this Muppets show will ever forget it.

Postscript: As I was walking home from the early gala, still absorbing and processing what I had experienced, I got a text message from a friend who was about to take in the late show and suddenly found herself with an extra ticket. Did I want to go, she asked. You’ve never seen a text message responded to so quickly. It’s possible that I may even have replied with an all-caps “YES!” — for which I will not apologize.

And with that, I turned on my heel and headed straight back to Place des Arts, marvelling at how easily once-in-a-lifetime experiences can multiply.

By Basem Boshra, GAZETTE Arts Editor

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