Saturday, 9 April 2016


It's one of the most memorable opening scenes in a movie.

As the banjo chords of "Rainbow Connection" are heard, the camera pans over a swamp and slowly zooms in to show Kermit the Frog strumming and singing, as he sits alone on a log.

Now fans can join in during that iconic moment, when "Sing Along with 'The Muppet Movie'" comes to Easton's State Theatre on Sunday.

The interactive experience takes its cues from the called-out responses and the use of props popularized by "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" but with a much more family-friendly vibe. Kids even get a goody bag filled with playful props like bubbles and glow necklaces.

Host Davey Rocker plays his guitar and leads the audience, as the words to favorite songs such as "Rainbow Connection" and "Movin' Right Along" scroll across the bottom of the screen.

Kids use magic paintbrushes (wands with streamers) to "paint" Fozzie Bear's old 1951 Studebaker and try to shoot out Gonzo's helium balloons with their ice-cream shooters, while everyone joins in flapping their ears and saying Fozzie's catchphrase "Wocka Wocka Wocka" every time a bad joke is cracked.

"This is where it all started," says Rocker of the 1979 Jim Henson film that was nominated for two Academy Awards. "I think the adults have as much fun as the kids. Many of the adults can recite all the lines."

The sing along is presented by Ibex Puppetry, a Florida company founded in 2000 by Henson's daughter, Heather Henson, who also is a puppet artist and sits on the board of directors for The Jim Henson Legacy.

"Sing alongs allow me to connect with the work of my father," Heather Henson says. "I can work with my dad's material. I can put a new spin on it but it's still his stuff, intact."

Rocker, a Florida children's musician who did a musical puppet show, met Heather Henson three years ago and she asked him to co-host the sing along. Originally Heather Henson co-hosted, but now Rocker is joined by dancer and actress Sunny Raskin.

He says the original "Muppet Movie" is being introduced to a new generation of fans who have seen the new films: 2011's "The Muppets" and 2014's "Muppets Most Wanted."

"The Muppet Movie" was listed in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant" in 2009. The film was notable for its groundbreaking images of full body puppets, including Kermit riding a bicycle and Kermit and Fozzie Bear dancing. The closing reprise of "Rainbow Connection" featured a crowd of more than 250 Muppet characters — virtually every Muppet that had been created up at that time.

"It really is one of those family shows that has a wide audience," Rocker says. "It's a pretty magical movie. The Muppets bridge generations."

For the film, he and Raskin sit in chairs on a small set at the lower right side of the movie screen and help guide the audience through the interactive elements. You can arrive early for a pre-show performance with music and comedy.

During the film, Rocker holds up cards that say "Yay" and "Boo," the hosts shadow act out a couple scenes and remind fans to pull their "stretchy frogs" every time Doc Hopper, an evil frogs legs entrepreneur, appears on screen.

The film holds up well after more than three decades, he says.

"It's a classic story and it's almost autobiographical of Jim Henson's life," Rocker says. "Kermit decides to leave the swamp and go to Hollywood to follow his dreams and picks up all these characters on the way to make millions of people happy.

"Jim Henson came from the small town of Leland, Miss. and picked up great puppeteers and character actors on the way to make millions of people happy."

Highlights of the film include the songs by Paul Williams and Kenneth Ascher, who won a Grammy Award for the album of the musical score. Other songs are "Never Before, Never Again" and "I Hope That Somethin' Better Comes Along."

Also popular, Rocker says, is audience shout-outs to all the famous people who appear in the film including Bob Hope, Richard Pryor, Steve Martin, Mel Brooks, Dom DeLuise, Cloris Leachman and Sesame Street's Big Bird.

Kids also can join in a conga line, be showered in confetti and watch kites being flown inside the theater.

There also are surprise appearance by Muppets Gonzo and Animal at appropriate moments in the movie.

"Adults really love it for the old-school nostalgia," Rocker says. "I hadn't seen it in years and when I did it was so refreshing. It's really a beautiful piece of work."

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