Muppet Christ, Superstar is a parody depicting what it might sound like if the Muppets did a version of Jesus Christ, Superstar. Christo Graham sings all the parts. His Kermit is a bit of a stretch, but his Miss Piggy is pretty spot on.
I nearly died while listening to Miss Piggy Singing “I Don’t Know How to Love Him.”
The songs are available for download from Bandcamp. Or you can listen to them here.
We saw a musical last weekend.
Several years ago, when Michael and I had season tickets to one of the local theatres, we saw a national touring company of Suessical the Musical, with Cathy Rigby (former Olympic gymnast most famous since for playing Peter Pan in more than one revival on Broadway and numerous national tours) as the Cat in the Hat. It was fun.
This last weekend we saw the musical performed by a bunch of middle-school kids, one of whom happens to be my godson. It was also a lot of fun. And that isn’t just my prejudice as a doting godparent.
At least some of the fun is remembering what it was like being on stage around the age, and not feeling at all as fearless as these kids seemed to be. It was quite amazing to hear the voices on a few of those kids, who did not sound like “kids” at all.
It was also fun to remember all that Seuss. The musical takes elements from a bunch of Dr. Seuss books (most prominently Horton Hears a Who and Horton Hatches an Egg) and weaves them together to make one story.
It would be easy to be cynical and dismissive of the play, what with the themes of accepting yourself for who you are, loyalty, and respecting others. And since people usually accuse me of being the opposite of cynical, it should surprise no one that I’m not going to go there. In fact, what I found myself thinking about most during the drive home was how easy it was to fall into the imaginary world with very simple costumes and minimal props. You don’t need a lot of special effects to believe that a group of monkeys are trying to steal a clover with a dust spec from an elephant. Just a few hints and a bit of body language is all that’s required.
Which was a good thing to be reminded of while I’m slogging away on my novel, occasionally wondering how words on a screen can compete with animation and music.
It’s the story and the characters that matter. Everything else is window dressing.
One of my favorite scenes in the movie Jeffrey is where a priest, played by Nathan Lane, explains to the protagonist that the protagonist’s ideas about god came from the album cover of the original cast recording of My Fair Lady. He further claims it’s where most gay men got their notions about god.
His reasoning is: most parents in the 50s and 60s had a copy of the album*, most gay kids went through at least a phase of listening to musical soundtracks (and even if they didn’t, they all at least saw the cover art), most kids didn’t realize that the man in the clouds on the cover art manipulating the stars like puppets on strings was supposed to be George Bernard Shaw (the man who wrote the play upon which the musical was based), they believed it was god. “It was your parents’ album. You were little. You thought it was god!” Then he goes on to explain that god doesn’t run the world like that.
Part of why that scene cracked me up is because I did go through a phase of listening to the soundtracks of musicals—musicals that in many cases I had never seen. I’m not completely sure why my folks owned several sound track albums, but they did. I do know that my mom had a tendency, if she saw a movie adaptation of a musical, to buy the original broadway cast album instead of the movie album. Anyway, My Fair Lady was one of those albums that I listened to a lot as a kid, but I had never seen the show.
I wound up making up my own version of what happened between the songs. I also imagined my own versions of the choreography and costumes, guided by whatever photographs were part of the album cover, or in some cases, versions of the songs I’d seen on TV. There were a lot of musical variety shows on the air when I was a kid, and stars of movies and broadway shows would often be guests on the variety programs, and might perform a version of (or parody of) a scene from the musical, with regulars from the variety show filling in for various characters.
So in my head, the song “Get Me To the Church On Time” was not primarily about the wild last night of partying that Eliza Doolittle’s long-widowed father wanted to have before he married in the morning. I didn’t know enough of the play to know the context, for one. I think the album only identified the character as “Alfie” so I had no way to know he was supposed to by Eliza’s father. The lyrics talk about having a whopper, and kicking up a rumpus, but somehow I thought it was about celebrating the marriage itself—partying because he was overjoyed to be getting married, rather than a last night of debauchery because he would never be having fun again.
It was also about all the people around him, friends and strangers alike, joining in on the joy and exaltation.
It’s that imagined version of the song and dance that kept popping up in my head last Tuesday night as I saw that Marriage Equality was winning at the ballot box. It was that image of friends, family, neighbors, and complete strangers shouting “hurray!” that came to mind as I thought of the hundreds of straight people who manned those phone banks—calling strangers and patiently explaining that the law explicitly exempted churches and religious institutions from performing same sex marriages (not that the law needed it, it’s already established in other laws and court decisions; churches can choose to turn away opposite sex couples for whatever religious reason they want, too). The thousands of straight people who donated to the campaigns. The thousands of straight people who urged neighbors, co-workers, and family members to give equality a chance. The hundreds of thousands of straight people who voted that way.
Depending on which statistics you believe, gays and lesbians make up somewhere between 3 and 10 percent of the population. There’s no way we could have voted this in for ourselves. There’s no way we could have handled all of the ground game: the canvassing, the pamphleting, the phone banking, and so on.
It was my imaginary version of “Get Me to the Church on Time” that was playing in my head when straight friends told me, “I thought of you and Michael while I was filling out my ballot.” It was the soundtrack to the images I saw on TV of the straight couples joining in the party at the campaign headquarters on the news.
It’s what comes to mind when I re-watch the tearful speech of the straight, Republican state senator explaining why she was voting for the law that kicked this off last spring. Or when I read stories of the way, the last few years, many straight couples have taken a moment in their wedding ceremonies to acknowledge that they have friends and loved ones who are denied the right to choose to enter this important institution, and asking their guests to join the fight for equality.
Yes, part of the reason there were tears in my eyes on Tuesday night when I saw the news that marriage equality had won in Maine, and then in Maryland, and that it was leading in my home state of Washington was because I’m looking forward to finally getting to marry (rather than “domestically partner”???) Michael. But that was only part of it.
The rest of those tears of joy was the realization that a majority of my fellow citizens–not just my fellow homos, or my friends, but a bunch of people who don’t know me–has our back.
And I hope you all get invited to a lot of weddings, because you deserve to celebrate with us.
UPDATE: I started this the morning after Election Night. Because of craziness at work, I didn’t finish it until a day later. And I didn’t see this column by Dan Savage on the same topic until Thursday night. His is definitely worth a read.
* Remember, Jeffery is a comedy, it’s not a real statistic.