As anyone who has seen it will attest, the Muppet’s Christmas Carol is the definitive version of the story. Dickens’s version, whilst competent, fails in a number of rather obvious areas. These include only having one Marley and glossing over the role played by Rizzo the Rat. Worst of all, he neglected to write a number of songs that sound good being sung by Kermit the Frog; Statler and Waldorf; and, hardest of all, Michael Caine.
I’ve watched the film every Christmas practically since it came out. However, when I heard that the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester was screening the film accompanied by a live orchestra I must admit I was confused.
Who’s idea was that, I wondered? Who looked out the movie score? Who put together the click track for the conductor to play along with? Who thought people would pay money to see something that airs for free on TV every December.
Whoever they were, they knew what they were doing. The hall was packed with families. When I say families, I should point out I saw about three actual youngsters there. Most of the children in the families present were now adults, my own two included.
Did the addition of live music add anything to the film? If I’m honest, I kept forgetting there was an orchestra present until someone made a mistake. The music was too loud, it tended to drown the speaking.
But that didn’t matter. Everyone knew the dialog. Not only that, they sang along quite happily.
So it was a great show, though not for the reason I was expecting. When I booked the tickets part of my motivation was to support an orchestra, not out of any idea that orchestras need protecting, but because I like orchestras and if no one goes then they’ll stop playing.
But this wasn’t about the orchestra. It wasn’t about the music. It was all about the feeling of community.
The Muppets Christmas Carol accompanied by a live orchestra. Surely this must be the cultural event of the year.