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So you want to audition for the Muppets?

Discussion in 'Puppet News' started by Sweetums74, Jul 29, 2005.

  1. BEAR

    BEAR Active Member

    Jinx, you need to understand that the difference between the Muppets and these other theatrical characters you speak of is that the Muppet performances need to be very specific. Not only do they have to have the right personality and soul, but the voice needs to be as close to the original as possible, otherwise it is not the same character. It just isn;t and that is a lot of what people complain about when replacements come in.
  2. Kynan Barker

    Kynan Barker New Member

    The Broadway analogy almost works, but not quite. All of those stage roles are parts written for an actor to interpret. That's how theater operates -- the writer writes the part, the director casts the part, and for the two hours between curtains, the audience believes that the actor is the part. But only for the two hours between curtains. The Phantom of the Opera doesn't make talk show appearances, and nobody pretends that Jean Valjean stays in character after the finale to have a couple beers with Cosette.

    Gonzo wasn't written then cast. Gonzo is an alter ego who evolved from his performer. He came from Dave and he lives within Dave. Gonzo does appear on talk shows, and Gonzo does live a singular life between curtains. Fictitious, yes, but no less real in the audience's mind.

    The correct analogy for the Muppet characters is much more akin to Barry Humphries' Dame Edna Everage. Dame Edna's a character, but she's Barry's character and only his. Perhaps when Barry retires, he'll want the character to live on. That's his decision. But for now, he doesn't expect anybody to accept multiple Ednas.
  3. BEAR

    BEAR Active Member

    Very Very well put.
  4. Kynan Barker

    Kynan Barker New Member

    Was Once Ernie, walkaround costumes are a whole different thing. Nobody's being asked to believe that it's the real thing. There's no possibility of a suit performer being mistaken for the "actual" animated Mickey Mouse. One Muppet, One Voice has no problem with walkaround Muppets, animatronic Muppets, ice-skating Muppets, cartoon Muppets, or any other incarnation of Muppets, provided the audience isn't told, This is the real Kermit. It's multiple, competing versions of the same character that constitute the danger to the Muppets and a fraud to the public.

    On the other hand, if your position is that the Muppets died with Jim, then we may as well pack up and go home. That's an argument for Disney to do whatever the heck they want: Headbanger Kermit, Ms Kermit, Fire-breathing Kermit, Terrorist Kermit. What's it matter, Jim's already gone.

    It's also a slap in the face to the talented artists who've been continuing Jim's vision for the past fifteen years. What have they been striving for? What, for that matter, are the puppeteers who are planning to audition striving for? If the Muppets are dead, then it's a waste of everybody's time. Trying to get the voices right, trying to get the character right, trying to keep the spirit alive -- everything goes out the window if you admit defeat as of May 1990.

    But for me, and I'm sure for most of us here, as long as the Muppet name continues, it's worth fighting to keep Jim's spirit alive. And that means protecting the characters, not throwing them to the wolves. Jim wasn't against making money or being successful. MHC can have their cake and eat it too. They just need to do it with One Muppet, One Voice, not open season character assassination.
  5. OverUnderAround

    OverUnderAround New Member

    I learned a little bit more about the job openings.

    Either the job title or job category is called “On-Call Live”

    Two things that the Occasional Muppeteer might be called upon to do is:

    1) Photo shoots
    2) Disney Cruise ship

    Photo shoots are no real threat to Muppeteers.

    I have heard in the past that other cruise ship lines require on-ship performers to commit to 3 or 6-month contracts at sea. (I don’t know if Disney’s cruise ship has the same policy.) So I think one should ask themselves:
    1) Do I get seasick?
    2) Can I afford to be away at sea from my family/home/pets/job that long?

    That’s something to think about if your planning to audition.

    No mention of appearances at malls.
    Personally, I can’t see Muppets appearing at malls. That’s not enough exposure to warrant Disney to spend money and time to send an Occasional Muppeteer to such a small venue.
  6. Voiceroy

    Voiceroy Member

    Since there is no possible way I can attend any of the 3 auditions, I called to inquire if they were considering auditioning in other major cities like Atlanta (where I live currently).

    No one was available so I left a message. Took a day but "Todd" called me back to tell me that unfortunately they are only auditioning in LA, NYC, and Toronto.

    He also said they are not accepting any audio/video demos for these auditions due to the nature of the work involved -- it's important for them to see how performers will react in a live setting.

    Todd told me that since I already had experience both in puppetry and voiceovers (as well as having performed Kermit for some local events), that I would be a good candidate for this particular job in the Atlanta area if they found they had a need, and he said he would keep my name and contact info on-hand for future reference.

    Thankfully, I do have somewhat of a "back door" possibility of still getting in on these auditions as I have an audition for a new Sesame Street character next week. I'm hoping the casting personnel will be aware of the Muppet Holdings audtions and that from my audition, word of mouth might possibly make it back to the right individuals.

    I also have a nice bonus that the producers of "Kermit's Swamp Years" (Jim Lewis and Michael Polis) have heard my Kermit impression -- I won their Kermit impression contest at their San Diego Comic-Con panel. Both told me after the panel that my Kermit was "really good" and on the poster they signed for me, Jim wrote, "Steve Whitmire, Look out!"
  7. Was Once Ernie

    Was Once Ernie New Member

    There is no such thing as the REAL Kermit. As I said, the real Kermit died with Jim. You're trying to protect something that doesn't exist.

    I didn't say the Muppets died with Jim... I said the real Muppets died with Jim. The Muppets are very much alive, being performed by people who care about them.

    What have they been striving for? To do the best job they can do. And that's what the people auditioning will be doing. Do they think they ARE Jim Henson? Of course not. Do they think they ARE Kermit the Frog? I hope not.

    And it's not a slap in the face. I've talked to Steve Whitmire. He's doing his verison of Kermit. Granted, he's trying to get as close to Jim as he can, but it's still his version. I told him I was on the fence about what he was doing when I first heard it, but that I thought he had improved greatly. He was very humble and appreciative.

    And I know exactly how he feels. I've done some voice matching for some of Daws Butler's characters. Some people liked what I did. Some hated it. But I wrote this dedication:

    "Hanna-Barbera, The Greatest Cartoon Sound FX Ever is dedicated to the memory of Daws Butler. I studied acting with Daws for ten years. He was my mentor, my friend, and my West Coast father.

    Daws created most of the characters on this album (all but Muttley, Fred Flintstone and Dino). Although he was a diminutive man, I would never attempt to fill his very big shoes. I hope that my impressions of his characters will stand as a tribute to one of the greatest human beings to ever inhabit this wacky planet."

    And I believe that's what Steve and everyone who does someone else's characters are doing. A tribute to the originator.

    I don't believe Disney is throwing them to the wolves. But I also don't think that One Muppet, One Voice has any meaning once you're already dealing with replacements. For that matter, what is Kermit's One Voice? Even when Jim was doing his own creation, Kermit had two different voices. For lack of better descriptions, I'll call them "the Kermit that sounds like Ernie" and "the Kermit that doesn't sound like Ernie". As late as "The Muppet Movie", he was still using both interpretations. Wanna hear it? Get the CD of the soundtrack of "The Muppet Movie". Play the first two cuts back to back (not difficult to do, since that's the way the first two cuts would actually play anyway). Listen to Kermit on "The Rainbow Connection", then on "Movin' Right Along". They're similar, but different. Which one is the real Kermit? And which one is Steve doing? I'd say he's doing a third one, his own. So, which Kermit will the Occasional Muppeteer do? Well, he'll do his own version. It will be close to one of Jim's versions or maybe it will be closer to Steve's version. It doesn't matter. If it's good and it's coming out of the frog puppet, people will buy it. For that matter, most people can't tell the difference between Jim's Kermit and Steve's. Most people don't care. They just like the character.

    My opinion is that this whole uproar is coming from a rather small group of fanatics. The rest of the world just sees the frog and if he's funny, sounds pretty much the same and is performed well, they buy it. And in the end, that's all that matters.

  8. Kynan Barker

    Kynan Barker New Member

    Was Once Ernie, everything you've said is a perfect argument for One Muppet, One Voice. Whether you think of Steve's Kermit as the "real" Kermit or not, the point is, in Steve's hands he's a singular, evolving character. For purposes of argument, it doesn't matter that it's Steve. It matters that Kermit is in one person's hands.

    All of the 'different Kermits' you cited from Jim's era just prove that Kermit is an evolving character. He aged and changed and grew as time went on. And since Jim passed away, Kermit has continued to evolve, as Steve has changed and grown and made the role his own.

    Multiple concurrent casting takes Kermit out of Steve's hands and puts him into the competing hands of two or three or more performers. Each of whom will be doing their best to find the spirit of Kermit, and each of whom will be giving a different performance. The Kermits will evolve in four different directions, and each of them will relate differently to the other characters. (Each of whom, in turn, will be evolving in different directions!)

    The end result is not unlike the Michael Keaton film Multiplicity: What initially seems like a neat idea eventually spirals out of control, the clones begin competing, there's no consistency, the film bombs at the box office, and Michael Keaton's film career is never quite the same.

    I'm not doubting the integrity or the intentions of those who would audition. I believe that anybody who would put on a Kermit would so in full recognition of the legacy they carry. I'm just saying, as soon as more than one person does that at a time, the characters won't be characters anymore, and the legacy goes out the window.
  9. Kynan Barker

    Kynan Barker New Member

    It bothers me that passing yourself off as Kermit could count as positive prior experience for this job.

    Did you do this with the consent of the Henson Company?
  10. Was Once Ernie

    Was Once Ernie New Member

    I think we're just going to have to agree to disagree because I definitely disagree with your premise. I do not think the separate Kermits will be "evolving" into anything. Nobody but Steve will be doing the kind of performances where the character will need to evolve. And just like a writer who comes in on the fourth season of a series and has to take into account what has come before, if any changes take place in the main continuity, they can be passed along to the other performers. There aren't going to be rogue Kermits out there doing whatever they please. I'm certain they will be under strict guidelines.

  11. Whatever

    Whatever Active Member

    I'm betting on Kevin! (Memphis Kevin, and F'N'W too if he auditions)
  12. Kynan Barker

    Kynan Barker New Member

    Was Once Ernie, you're missing the point, and I think you're doing it deliberately. My premise isn't that Muppet "continuity" is going to get confused. My point is that the Muppet characters themselves are going to be hopelessly diluted.

    I'm not talking about major plot points, like whether Kermit likes Miss Piggy. I'm talking about every nuance and facet of Kermit the Frog, as performed by Steve Whitmire, who is the only Kermit we've got right now. Multiple Kermits performed by multiple performers will be played in multiple directions, you've said it yourself. Obviously one Kermit isn't going to start smoking and hanging out in casinos. The average audience member doesn't care about the minutiae of Muppet storylines, they care about whether Kermit feels like Kermit. And only one Kermit can be the real Kermit at any given time.

    The characters are the sum total of their actions. Everything the Muppets do in the public eye -- and therefore everything the Muppets do at all -- contributes to the relationship between the audience and the characters. Yet you won't admit that multiple Muppets is going to change that.

    MHC is auditioning improvisational performers. Once the curtain's up and the puppeteers are ad libbing, then, guidelines schmuidelines, MHC ain't stopping any of the Kermits from doing exactly whatever they please.

    By the way, did Ernie just poke his tongue out at me?
  13. Voiceroy

    Voiceroy Member

    Oh, please. That's just rediculous.

    I didn't make any money from any of the events where I've performed Kermit. In fact, I usually don't even use a Kermit puppet. I wear a ping-pong ball cut in half as Kermit eyes. It's a comedy bit I've used many times that always goes over great with audiences. I've performed Kermit singing "Close To You" at a couple weddings, and did a few kids events singing some of Kermit's signature songs.

    I don't believe you have to ask permission for anything like that if you're not making any profit from it. And for crying out loud, most of the events I've done performing Kermit were for charity.

    They're looking for performers who can do a believable Kermit. Mine is -- I've won an award from a contest that was hosted by The Jim Henson Company that proves it, and been commended for it by the producers of a Kermit movie. I believe that says a lot in my favor.
  14. Was Once Ernie

    Was Once Ernie New Member

    Sorry about that. I realize that smilie of Ernie has his tongue hanging out, but since it's the only one of the character, I use it as my sig. I apologize to anyone else who might have taken offense at the tongue wagging Ernie in my sig.

  15. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Well-Known Member

    That cracked me up!!

    (Though, I've felt like a few of those smilies were looking at me, personally...)

    Also, did you know that the lines under :grouchy: have different colors?
  16. KermieBaby47

    KermieBaby47 Well-Known Member

    So I've been thinking, whatever will I do with my time after the audition in L.A. on Friday, September 23rd? Actually, I've only had one thought, and it is... GO TO DISNEY'S CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE!!!

    I mean c'mon! What better way to spend my time down there than see Muppet Vision 3-D, Playhouse Disney LIVE, and (my FAVORITE) Soarin' Over California!!!

    So, anyone wanna come with me? Jinx, are you still going? Anyone? Not that no company would stop me or anything, but it might be the teeniest bit more fun to go with other people! :) ;) :D
  17. Kynan Barker

    Kynan Barker New Member

    Voiceroy: In your message you said you'd "performed Kermit for local events." Under the circumstances, I think mine was a legitimate question, and not worthy of a "for crying out loud". I appreciate you clarifying.

    But to clarify your clarification: Anybody performing with a Kermit puppet at a public event is infringing on MHC's copyright.

    A comedy bit where you have ping-pong balls for eyes is obviously a different story, but if you've got a frog puppet and you're saying "Hi-ho, I'm Kermit the frog," then that's clear-cut copyright infringement, charity or not. It's up to Disney's discretion how, or if, they respond, but whether you're clearing a profit isn't a factor.
  18. OverUnderAround

    OverUnderAround New Member

    Getting back to the true topic of this thread, it will be nice to see how many people will audition. Perhaps a thousand in total will tryout since I read here that the openings are now being advertised.

    But overall if everyone has realistic expectations and does the best they can, all hopefully will be content whether selected or not. I hope everyone finds their audition a positive experience and a nice memory, regardless of the outcome.

    While Todd is not a puppeteer, my guess is he will have a Muppeteer or two in attendance to evaluate those auditioning.
  19. Was Once Ernie

    Was Once Ernie New Member

    Surprisingly, only 48 showed up for the Playhouse Disney Live! auditions. I would have thought it would have been at least three times that. And at those, you didn't even have to do any voices. The whole show is pre-recorded. AND they weren't even looking for experienced puppeteers!

  20. Treelo

    Treelo Member

    Experience is not required, but those cast in Playhouse are put through a few weeks of intensive training with "Puppet Specialists" from the show, choreographers, and some amazing professional "Master Puppeteers" (who've worked on films like Team America, and various Henson projects). It's an amazing opportunity for those that are chosen.

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