Jim Henson’s Beloved ‘Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas’ is Now a Stage Show
In 1977, Jim Henson brought us a brand-new Christmas special. Based on a children’s book by Russell Hoban, Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas is narrated by Kermit the Frog, who tells the tale of Emmet Otter and his widowed Ma, a poor Otter family who tries to win a contest in order to win some cash for Christmas gifts. Over the years, it has become just as beloved as The Muppet Christmas Carol, so much so, that now it has been turned into a new stage show.
The film and the stage show feature music and lyrics by Paul Williams (he’s also responsible for The Muppets’ classic tune “The Rainbow Connection”), including songs such as “Brothers in Our World.” Studebaker Theater in Chicago is currently hosting the stage show, featuring Andy Mientus as Emmet Otter, Kathleen Elizabeth Monteleone as Ma, Jordan Brownlee as Doc Bullfrog, Nick Cearley as Charlie Muskrat, Kevin Covert as Mayor Fox, Matthew Furtado as Stan Weasel, and many more talented actors. It previously ran in New York Off-Broadway and is reportedly hoping to eventually end up on Broadway.
In honor of the book, film, and now show, learn some fun facts about the Henson classic.
You can watch outtakes from the special. Outtakes are always entertaining to watch and give a glimpse at the making of the film. These outtakes are especially fun because even when the actors or puppeteers mess up, they tend to stay in character!
The special featured some very elaborate sets because Henson wanted the environment to help evoke the wholesome feel of the film. If you’ve seen the film a few times, take one time to just look at the sets and backdrops or even the more impressive technical aspects of the time period, like when Kermit rides a bike or when Ma and Emmet are on a boat.
The otter characters became so beloved that they appeared in other Muppets movies and shows. Almost all of the characters appear at the end of the 1979 Muppet Movie during the “Rainbow Connection” finale. Some of the characters appeared on The Muppet Show over the years, and the special was even referenced in the newest Muppets series. In The Muppets Mayhem, Floyd Pepper exclaims: “Yeah, we don’t beef with nobody. Well, except that one band from Riverbottom,” referring to the Riverbottom Gang.
Watch Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas on the streaming service Peacock.