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New viral video, Henson stage show as well as traveling exhibit make for a very Muppety Easter

Jim Hill

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New viral video, Henson stage show as well as traveling exhibit make for a very Muppety Easter

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When most folks think of the Muppets these days, they think of these sweet, whimsical characters doing cute & gentle things. But what a lot of people forget about Jim Henson is that he had this pretty dark sense of humor. Which is why – back in the day – in order to get a laugh, many Muppet characters were beaten, squashed and eaten.

Which is why I’m pleased to report that – just in time for Easter – Muppets Studios has released a brand-new viral video. A bunny-and-monster-filled rendition of “Stand by Me” that is sure to offend those of you who have delicate sensibilities. But as for me … I think that this video is in the great Jim Henson tradition: In that it is violent, bizarre as well as being hysterically funny.

The bunny monster from the Muppets new viral video of the song Stand By Me
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

And speaking of delicate sensibilities … If you’re offended by cute little bunnies being brained with giant carrots, then you certainly wouldn’t want to see “Stuffed and Unstrung,” that new WestBeth Entertainment & Henson Alternative production which opened just last night at the Union Square Theatre in NYC.

You see, this is a live, uncensored adults-only show that features … Well, not Muppets. Since The Jim Henson Company sold the Muppets to The Walt Disney Company back in February of 2004, “Stuffed and Unstrung” isn’t allowed to identify the puppets that appear in this stage show as Muppets. Which is why this Muppet-like creations are now referred to as (somewhat jokingly) as puppet-Americans.

Brian Henson surrounded by the puppets from the show Stuffed and Unstrung
Brian Henson and some of the "cast members" from "Stuffed and Unstrung."
Copyright The Jim Henson Company. All Rights Reserved

Whatever these characters are called … Brian Henson is carrying on in the great Jim Henson tradition by staging an evening of live theater that – while it may often be bawdy – is also wildly entertaining and original. Working with improvisational guru Patrick Bristow, Brian has crafted an evening of puppet-based sketches & songs that’s never the same twice. Thanks – in large part -- to the six puppeteers who are on stage throughout “Stuffed and Unstrung” who are constantly turning to the audience, asking for their input when it comes to what the next twist in this tale should be.

Just be aware that this puppets-and-improv show is a limited engagement. As of right now, “Stuffed and Unstrung” is only supposed to run at the Union Square Theatre for 10 weeks. With the last performance of this adults-only entertainment tentatively scheduled for May 29th. So if you want to see this WestBeth Entertainment / Henson Alternative production, you really might want to think about ordering some tickets today. Before the word gets out about how great “Stuffed and Unstrung” is.

Henson Alternative Stuffed and Unstrung
Copyright The Jim Henson Company. All Rights Reserved

If – on the other hand – you prefer Henson Classic to Henson: The Next Generation … Well, you might want to swing on by National Heritage Museum in Lexington, MA. Which – starting this Saturday – will the home to “Jim Henson’s Fantastic World” for the next 12 weeks.

This traveling exhibit – which was organized by The Jim Henson Legacy and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service – features over 100 original pieces of art, including drawings, cartoons and storyboards that Henson himself created. Which clearly demonstrate Jim’s skill as a storyteller.

Jim Henson and all his characters
Jim Henson and his characters. Photo by John E. Barrett, courtesy of The Jim Henson Legacy.
Kermit the Frog copyright The Muppet Studio, LLC. All Rights Reserved

And thanks to the cooperation with the Henson family, The Jim Henson Company, The Muppets Studio, LLC, and Sesame Workshop, “Jim Henson’s Fantastic World” features puppets as well as props from the various movies & television shows that Jim created over the course of his career. Now add in the video component (which showcases a lot of the TV commercials that Henson made as well as his experimental films), and you’ve got a traveling exhibit that Muppet fans would go miles out of their way to see.

Just be aware, though: While "Jim Henson's Fantastic World" will be at the National Heritage Museum tomorrow through June 27, 2010, this traveling exhibit won’t be open to the public on April 4th – Easter Sunday.

Muppeteers shooting Jim Henson't 1986 Easter special The Tale of the Bunny Picnic
Muppeteers shooting Henson's 1986 Easter special, "The Tale of the Bunny Picnic."
Copyright The Jim Henson Company & Muppet Studio, LLC. All Rights Reserved

But I suppose – if you really, really, REALLY need a Muppet fix on Easter – you could always head on over to the MuppetsStudios channel on YouTube and have a monstrously good time watching & rewatching “Stand by Me.”

“Hi. I’m a bunny … Come ‘ere. Come ‘ere, you …”

A muppet monster as a bunny carrying a giant carrot, surrounded by small rabbits
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved 

Happy Easter!

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  • I wish there was some way we could send that Big Mean Carl monster to Gigglesock's house. That way, Carl can eat that Muppet-hating troll alive.

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