Muppetology 101: A Tour of the Muppet Theater

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Michael Wermuth Jnr – Time for a field trip, class! Today, we take a tour of the Muppet Theater. We’ll learn about all the different locations as seen on The Muppet Show – which means we won’t get into locations featured only in books, the 2011 film The Muppets, or the attic from the Playhouse Video compilations.

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Our first stop is the reception area. Coming in from a back alley, the reception area is run by Pops. Expect him to greet you and ask “who are you?”, no matter how famous you are.

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As we go up the stairs we get to the most important part of the theater (next to the stage), the backstage. This is where Kermit runs things. Expect a lot of costumes, props, and set pieces to be lying around, different things from week to week, and expect to see Gaffer, a one-eyed cat, laying by the stairs. Up the stairs backstage are dressing rooms. At least one of them is for the guest star, while another is for Miss Piggy. There have been a few rare occasions where it was mentioned other characters have dressing rooms.

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Back down the backstage stairs and to the left is a door, which leads downstairs to the canteen, run by Gladys and The Swedish Chef. Their soup de jour (or soup of the day) is the same as yesterday, and they’ve served such foods as a wedding cake made from raw onions, a walnut lima bean sandwich (though they forget the jelly), and a steak. They’ve also served lobsters – not on the menus, the lobsters ordered the steak.

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Now let’s go back upstairs to the backstage and head on over to the stage. The stage is where a lot of the action takes place. This is where Kermit does his introductions, where the guest stars do their things, where Fozzie tells jokes, Gonzo does his stunts, where various recurring sketches are performed, and where Wayne and Wanda’s acts end early at. There’s a nice red curtain, and a brick wall behind the sets. Looking down from the stage is the orchestra pit, conducted by Nigel, where the band plays the theme song and other music cues. And looking across from the stage is where the audience sits. Look upward and you’ll see a big balcony area, and to the sides are smaller balconies. The balcony on your left (if you’re on the stage) is where Statler and Waldorf watch the show from every week.

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And finally, there’s the prop room, where props are stored (obviously). But the characters have also used the prop rooms for other things. Miss Piggy’s used it to work out and weigh herself, Gonzo used it to audition dancing chickens, and Robin has packed a suitcase there. Unfortunately, it is confusing where it is. In episode 204, Gonzo tells Kermit he’s going to the prop room and heads in the direction to the stage, while in episode 209 Kermit says he’s going to look for Gonzo in the prop room (wow, must have been Gonzo’s favorite hang-out place) but heads in the opposite direction. Could there be multiple ways there from backstage (without just leaving the back door and going around to the front door)? Could one of them have just mistakenly went in the wrong direction (and then corrected themselves when we weren’t looking)? Or could it just be a goof that nobody thought anyone would care about (little did they know that one day there’d be a history lesson like this)? Episode 503 shows that Beauregard has his own storage room, which may or may not have been converted from the prop room (well, the same set is used, and it basically serves the same function).

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And now we get to one last bonus room, which I also don’t know how to get to in the theater. And that room is the boiler room, which looks suspiciously like an empty version of the prop room. This room appeared in only one episode, in which Kermit, Fozzie, and Gonzo get locked in while the pigs take over the show. The room had a working phone before Fozzie accidentally pulled it off the wall, and Gonzo managed to dig a big tunnel through one of the walls with a spoon.

And that’s our tour of the Muppet Theater. If you ever go, you should check out all of these locations. They don’t seem to have strict policies against letting people outside of the show go to parts of the theater not meant for the audience.

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