Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Muppets and Messiah

Our recent entrtainment choices have ranged from

Sublime: "Joyful Noise," a play about George Frederick Handel writing "The Messiah"


Ridiculous: "The Muppets"

"Joyful Noise"
There was a lot of yelling in "Joyful Noise," about artistic choice, and shameful past choices, and which soprano stole whose parts, and whether stage actresses (*= gasp!) should sing in entertainment establishments * about the Savior.* My kids loved the frequent funny parts. Handel said the line that's sticking with me: "God belongs in the mud"—out where the people who need Him live. Each character—Handel, the warring sopranos, the indignant bishop, the King of England—made a journey from grief and resentment to redemption, beautifully depicted and sung. I wished they could have sung the whole "Messiah" at the end. But the point wasn't the music, it was the redemption.

(sensitivity caution: One character had a sordid past, rather vividly described.)
For Utah friends: "Joyful Noise" is playing at the Covey Center for the Arts in a vanishingly tiny theatre. If you can't get tickets this year, go next year!

"The Muppets"
 One day when I was very small, my mom said, "There's a new TV show you might like." It was "Sesame Street"—maybe not the pilot episode, but definitely close. I grew up on Sesame Street, and when "The Muppet Movie" came out, I loved that, too. (Howard Tayler said it better than I did here.)

When  saw the trailer for "The Muppets," I was appalled. I'm definitely the epicenter of the target audience of life-long Muppet-lovers. But, a Muppet re-make? "Re-make" usually means flatulence humor, bad words, double entendres, and drearily bad writing. Was nothing sacred?

But we read some surprisingly positive reviews, so we ventured and came out completely converted. Just like Muppet productions of former years, the movie was funny, off-beat, innocent, and full of feel-good heart. They also punched holes in the "fourth wall" whenever they felt like it. For instance, when it was taking too long to round up the old gang, someone suggested they finish the job "by montage." One three-minute montage later, the car was full of old friends.

This show was apparently Jason Segel's brainchild. I encourage you to send this man money. We will go see this picture, full price, lots of times, to thank him for getting the Muppets right, and to encourage him to do it again!

At least while swirling around in my mind, these two works ended up expressing similar themes.

"Joyful Noise" asks "Can fallen mortals hope for redemption and joy?"

"The Muppets" asks, "Is there hope in the world for innocence and laughter?"

The answer in both cases is a resounding "Yes" for hope!


  1. Love it, Lee Ann! I miss writing with you (i.e., I still need you to help me find the right word or phrasing!).

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Lee Ann Setzer's blog about books, writing, and life in general.