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Saturday, July 24, 2010
The Muppets Take Indianapolis
In 1985, I got to visit a special Jim Henson exhibit at the Indianapolis Children's Museum. This was presented on the ground floor, and I believe it required separate admission. There were all sorts of puppets on display, as well as documentaries, models, puppet materials, interactive exhibits, and a store!
The Muppet Babies from the 1984 film, The Muppets Take Manhattan, were some of the newer characters on display.
Here I am with Junior Gorg from Fraggle Rock. This show was especially interesting to me. During its initial run, Fraggle Rock was exclusive to HBO, which we did not have. A visit to Indianapolis meant a visit to my grandparents, and they had HBO! So this particular trip to Indiana was really great.
The Fraggles themselves could be seen here, too! Here's Wembley, Gobo, Boober, Red and Mokey. The songs for Fraggle Rock (written and composed by Philip Balsam and Dennis Lee) were simply brilliant. I still have my Fraggle Rock album, but no record player (you can find the songs on iTunes).
A touch of a button activated motion in a Doozer construction site behind glass. The Doozers were a technical marvel, utilizing radio-control puppetry. In Fraggle Rock, the Doozers were constantly building their towers, which the Fraggles enjoyed knocking down and eating.
Another interactive display featured characters from the 1977 TV special, Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas. This was also shown on HBO, and I remember watching this at my grandparents' house. Visitors could press a button to make Emmet Otter and his Ma row their boat. In 2008, Goodspeed Opera House adapted this special into a live musical, mixing costumed actors and puppets (it looked very impressive). Seen in the background of this photo are puppets from Jim Henson's first TV series, Sam and Friends, which aired from 1955 to 1961 out of Washington D.C.
Seen here are Emmet's rivals from the Riverbottom Nightmare Band. One of my favorite characters is the Catfish (seen here in a bucket on skis). This puppet was manipulated immersed in water, and often spit on other characters.
I got Fraggle Rock PVC figurines from the Muppet Store at the Museum. Pictured here are Pa Gorg, Ma Gorg, Red, Wembley, Gobo, Mokey and Boober. These figures were made by a company called Schleich. Junior Gorg was also part of this set (as was a Doozer) but the store did not have any to sell. Schleich also produced PVC toys of the Muppets and the Smurfs many years ago.
I was very excited to visit this exhibit (I want to tell younger me to smile for the camera)! There were also puppets on display from The Muppet Show, Sesame Street (Big Bird is huge!) and Saturday Night Live. I felt really lucky to get to see this. Get it? Muppets? Felt? Wocka-wocka!