Rudolf Nureyev - Episode 37Taping Dates: Week of October 18, 1977
Original Airdates: January 23, 1978 (New York) and January 27, 1978 (LA)
DVD Release: Time-Life, 2002; Columbia Tri-Star, 2004; Buena Vista Home Video, 2007
RUDOLF NUREYEV INTRO
Brian Henson: "Hi, I'm Brian Henson. This episode of The Muppet Show stars Rudolf Nureyev. Nureyev is one of the 20th century's greatest ballet dancers, perhaps the last person you'd expect to find on The Muppet Show. They contacted Nureyev to find out what he wanted to do with The Muppets and he said I'd love to dance with Miss Piggy. Well of course with Miss Piggy it's kind of hard to do a ballet sequence because she's generally only seen from the waist up. So what they did was, they built this crazy, big, kind of goofy pig costume to dance with Nureyev. The dance floor was a little slick and Nureyev actually taught us a little trick. He says you mop the floor with Coca-Cola. So if you watch this episode check out the sticky floors and the extra large pig on The Muppet Show."
Scooter, dressed in tux, discovers an empty guest star dressing room and reasons Nureyev was too smart to show up.
The balcony: Statler and Waldorf sing along with the music.
Gonzo's horn: A long green balloon comes out of Gonzo's trumpet which Gonzo taps with his nose..
Sam the Eagle has the entire backstage decorated with flowers and the cast is decked out in black tie apparel (though Robin's hat is way too big making him resemble Fozzie's agent, Irving Bizarre.) Sam does an inspection tour of everyone finding fault everywhere as the place can't be classy enough for a highbrow guest like Rudolf Nureyev. (Sam's favorite opera singer!)
Sam spot checks Kermit to be sure Nureyev is a ballet as opposed to opera star and lets it go ("Culture is culture.") but is aghast to hear the opening Minuet will be done by Dr. Teeth & The Electric Mayhem. (Given their last foray at classical music in the Zero Mostel episode, Sam has a right to be concerned.)
OPENING NUMBER - "MINUET IN G MAJOR"
The band actually starts off playing a classy rendition despite their unconventional instruments, attire, and audible grumbling.
Animal is unable to confine himself to the more legato tempo and bursts into a rock beat as the rest of the band follow.
Sam is infuriated at the thought of what Rudolf Nureyev must have thought about the opening number.
Kermit explains he's running a bit late and a few seconds later Rudolf Nureyev comes walking through the stage door. Unfortunately Sam fails to recognize the ballet great when he's dressed in his street clothes. ("Get out of here, you freak, you hippie! You weirdo! Get out - move move! GET A HAIRCUT! Who do these punk kids think they are?")
With their guest gone, Kermit brings on the love opera from the third act of Barber of Die Fliedremaus.
[Even though Kermit introduces the piece as being by "Guisseppe Vagner... or Guisseppe Wagner... whatever", the pigs are actually singing Mozart.]
MUSICAL NUMBER - MUSIC FROM DON GIOVANNI
Link and Miss Piggy are decked out in full opera garb but end up upstaging and all out fighting with each other with their props. Sam eventually has to break up the onstage shenanigans by lowering a giant magnet on the set!
[Statler has apparently opened his mind towards opera since the Judy Collins episode where he declared he'd rather attend a public hanging.]
Kermit assures Sam that Rudolf's not mad and is presently changing into his costume for his big ballet number...Swine Lake.
Kermit fills the audience in on the story of Swine Lake ("A beautiful princess has been turned into a pig by the wicked magician, Trichinosis...")
DANCE NUMBER - SWINE LAKE
Rudolf's grand interpretation of Swan Lake complete with impressive royal set is soon interrupted by a huge full-size pig that's intent on hogging the spotlight...soon classic ballet starts resembling Rita Moreno's slapstick cafe dance!
[This number took six hours to film. The pig costume took Mari Kaestle six weeks to build.]
UK SKIT: MUSICAL NUMBER - "SOMETHING'S MISSING"
A Whatnot with one eye and half a beard/moustache, hair, and glasses sings among an incomplete set (including a faceless Mona Lisa) about how his life is not fulfilled - until he meets up with his love.
[It's possible this number was originally planned to appear in the Don Knotts episode since the whatnots in it are seen coming off the stage when Fozzie wishes he could have seen the number he heard.]
The cast performs its tribute to Shakespeare.
Miss Piggy's thrill over her love duet with Kermit turns into outright elation when she learns she'll be doing it with Rudolf Nureyev, trampling the frog as she rushes onstage.
Robin (still in oversized hat) takes over the introduction for his uncle ("He's trying to get the spiked heel marks off his throat!")
MUSICAL NUMBER - "BABY, IT'S COLD OUTSIDE"
Miss Piggy's joy continues as she catches sight of Rudolf dressed only in towel as their number takes place in a steam room.
After engaging in some banter and a duet, Piggy finally smothers Rudolf with kisses as Nureyev makes a quick escape - with Piggy left clutching his towel!
ROWLF'S PIANO - RECITAL OF DEBUSSY'S "CLAIR DE LUNE"
Rowlf attempts to bring some dignity back to the proceedings (perhaps making up somewhat for Vet's Hospital) but his classical recital is interrupted by Fozzie's unsuccessful attempts to light his candelabra - he finally tries a blow torch. (It was Gonzo's idea!)
Sam enters to apologize for the stuff Rudolf's had to do on the show only to find that it's all stuff Nureyev wanted to do...and then to add insult to injury, the ballet great is dressed up for a tap number!
CLOSING NUMBER - "TOP HAT, WHITE TIE AND TAILS"
Rudolf starts the number for Sam then makes his way backstage onto the stage where he's joined by Muppet chorus line (including Mahna Mahna!) all in top hats and tuxes.
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