The Muppets Take the O2 with Kylie Minogue
A kooky, old-fashioned American, puppets-meet-Broadway kind of show, The Muppets Take the O2 – playing live for the first time in this country – provided an enjoyable escape for anyone wishing to avoid the reality of Trump’s UK visit, an opportunity to evade the tribulations of the world and become a kid again.
Even those who have never seen a Muppets show or movie would likely have heard of Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy, who are big stars in their own right in the US and much beloved. Originally created by Jim Henson in the 1970s, the characters are a one-of-a-kind brand of wacky personalities. With a lovely naiveté and innocence, they are nevertheless cheeky and brash – especially Miss Piggy, an outrageously outspoken mega-diva with a temper. A new angle to this franchise was the visibility of the puppeteers themselves, though they were dressed discreetly in black.
Featuring special guests such as Kylie Minogue, David Tennant, Charles Dance and Kevin Bishop, the programme provided enough star power to interest adults, besides the attraction of the delightful wonky puppets. Minogue crooned Mah Nà Mah Nà, and in an amusing duet with Kermit sang the touching Rainbow Connection; Dr Who’s Tennant accompanied Pigs in Space – one of whom became a Time Lord, or “Time Lard” as per Miss Piggy; and Charles Dance recited poetry by Wordsworth until a shrimp puppet crashed his gig with rave music.
Other Muppet acts included Fozzie in the Tower of London, Muppet Labs, Veterinarian’s Hospital, Dr Teeth and the Electric Mayhem, the Chef in The Walking Bread zombie parody, and Gonzo and Ralph the Dog engaged in various forms of mischief around the capital.
In terms of the venue, the O2 Arena seems somewhat too gigantic for this production. The action was broadcast on giant screens for those too far away to see the stage, lending a slightly impersonal atmosphere to a performance that would have been charming in a more intimate environment. To a degree, the result appeared to be a commercialised dilution of the essential Muppets persona, although the videos did add a spectacular, glamorous touch. It was, as a whole, a unique presentation – and entertaining, particularly for children.
Ridiculous, sweet, hilarious and winsome, The Muppets Take the O2 was a great romp for all ages. The enduring popularity and longevity of this troupe is a tribute to its creators.
The Muppets Take the 02 is at the 02 Arena from 13th until 14th July 2018. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.