Monday, September 26, 2011

Puppet Up!

On Friday afternoon, Hubby asked me if I wanted to go downtown that evening.  He mentioned there was a show he wanted to take me to as an anniversary gift (belated, but still appreciated!).  I agreed and he asked if I wanted to know what it was or if I wanted it to be a surprise.  I decided to be surprised.

This decision nearly killed me.  I spent the whole afternoon thinking up possible shows he would take me to, but kept my curiosity in check enough not to go searching for the answer.  Hubby had said I should dress casually, no kids were allowed and that the doors opened at 6.  That was all I knew.

We parked downtown and walked past the Riverside theatre.  Hubby had thought we were headed there, but the show was at the Pabst, which is a few blocks away (confusing, but at least it was close).  He got our tickets from will call and asked if I wanted to see them.  So he handed them to me.  The show was listed as "Henson Alternative: Stuffed and Unstrung."  Oh dear.

"Do you know what it is?"
I looked at Hubby.  "Uh, I have a pretty rough idea.  I'm guessing... puppets.  But, adult-themed puppets?"

Confirmed.  Hubby said he had found out about this from his boss/owner of the company and that it was essentially "naughty" Muppets.  So we wandered in to have a drink in the lobby and eventually settled into our seats, which were right in the center, row E (and yes, that's approximately equal to row 5).  Beautiful view of the stage, and also of the ginormous monitors.  Prior to the show, the monitors showed information about the performers involved in the show.  Among them were Paul Rugg (the voice of Freakazoid, a childhood favorite of mine) and the woman who voiced Chairry on Pee Wee's Playhouse.  Needless to say, I was pretty psyched.

When the show started, I knew we were in for some fun.  A nice Muppet (and his pet fish) informed us that this was like seeing two shows in one.  On the monitors, we could watch the Muppets doing their thing.  On the stage, we could watch the puppeteers doing everything else.  Pretty cool actually.

It turned out to be part scripted and part improv.  The scripted parts included recreations of two original Jim Henson sketches from back in the day.  They showed the original on the screens, and the recreation occurred on the stage.  It was amazing and the performers did a beautiful job paying tribute to some classic sketches.

The improv...  Holy crap.  First of all, the "host" was Patrick Bristow.  You might remember him from Ellen (as in, her original comedy series) or, if you're a Disney Channel freak like me, you might know him from the Suite Life of Zack and Cody.  Either way, he's awesome, and watching him crack up on the side of the stage was almost as funny as some of the improv.

Whenever performers were called up for some improv, we got to yell, "Puppet up!"  According to Patrick, we were louder than the audience in San Fransisco.  (Never underestimate us Sconnies!)  From hot dogs staging a cheese intervention to Scott Walker as a super-villain in the next James Bond movie to a bedtime story about a trip to the proctologist (as told by a giant, digitally created brain puppet), everything was hilarious!  They had a whole stash of Muppets to choose from (we were a little disappointed that a few weren't used) and some fantastic performers to bring them to life.

So, if you ever get the chance to check out Henson Alternative, do it.  It is SO worth the time and money, and it's an experience you'll never forget.  When else do you get to hear Muppets swear or reference Linsday Lohan's beaver?  Never, my friends.  Never.

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