Henson Puppets Light Up Goodspeed Stage This Holiday Season

By Tony Schillaci and Don Church

Christmas arrived early this year – on December 7th at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam. But – good news! - it will still be Christmas through Sunday, January 4th as Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas delights audiences young and old, and all of us in-between!
The heartwarming story is a twist on The Gift of the Magi.  As Christmas approaches the fantasy world of Frogtown Hollow, Emmet Otter and his Ma can only dream of buying each other gifts. So when a Christmas Eve talent contest is announced, both secretly enter hoping to win the prize money!  Emmet and Ma risk all they have and end up with the greatest gift of all.

As an intimate venue, Goodspeed lends itself especially well to this lighthearted new work.  Michael P. Price, Executive Director, says “Looking to the future we hope Christmas at the Goodspeed Opera House will be an enduring holiday tradition.” The Resident agrees, putting Emmet Otter in the Christmas Classics league with The Nutcracker, The Radio City Music Hall Christmas Show, and It’s A Wonderful Life.

Based on director Jim Henson’s television feature, this new theatrical adaptation features a lovable mix of eighteen actors and puppet characters (Doc Bullfrog is just one example) from The Jim Henson Company. Emmet Otter is played by Daniel Reichard (Jersey Boys), Cass Morgan (Mary Poppins and Beauty and the Beast) is Ma Otter, Alan Campbell (Contact and Sunset Boulevard) plays Pa Otter and Kate Wetherhead (Legally Blond and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee) portrays Jane.

A toe-tapping score makes it a classic holiday show for everyone. This world premiere musical is based on the book “Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas” by Russell and Lillian Hoban and the ground-breaking all-puppet HBO special of the same name produced and directed by Jim Henson. This production is a unique collaboration among Goodspeed Musicals, co-book writers Timothy A. McDonald of iTheatrics and Christopher Gattelli, and The Jim Henson Company. Paul Williams who contributed the music and lyrics worked earlier in the season with Goodspeed on the fun musical Happy Days!

Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas will play December 7 through January 4 at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam. Resident readers still have time to purchase tickets for this great new family-friendly show!  Tickets:  860-873-8668 or goodspeed.org. 
© Copyright 2008. Critics On The Aisle. All rights reserved.
Published in The Resident December 24, 2008

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