I never thought, when I was a kid, that two staples from my childhood: the MoTabs and the Sesame Street Muppets, would ever be on the same stage. EVER. The two seemed to go together as much as seeing my grandparents listen to Menudo. I guess that is what Christmas is for, to bring surprises that you never thought possible, even when I am an adult and I have few surprises at Christmas time. Last Thursday night I got to attend the Mormon Tabernacle Christmas Concert with Santino Fontana and the Muppets. Talk about pure delight!
This concert has become a tradition for our family. It’s free to attend, but you have to enter a drawing in October held online to win the tickets. Or take a risk and wait in a standby line. If you want to enter to win tickets next year, just check the news in early October at Mormon Newsroom to get the alert about when the drawing starts. A few years ago my firstborn son was in the performance as a dancer the year that Natalie Cole and David McCullough were the guest artists. We got 4 tickets then because he was a dancer but for the other years we have been blessed enough to win the drawing. I didn’t get to go the year with Ms. Cole and Mr. McCullough. I had a nursing baby so I stayed home. I was so jealous of my husband and the three kids that went. Last year and this year more than made up for it. (This year’s was probably a lot more fun anyway!) This year they lowered the age limit to 5, whereas before you’ve had to be at least age 8 to attend. So this year we brought my 5 year old, fondly called Bugs, and my new RM son. He entered the drawing from his mission last year and had the tickets sent to us, so this was a nice way to pay him back.
We got to see Santino come down from the ceiling in hot air balloon. He sang a Christmas medley for us arranged by Sam Cardon. I am totally impressed with Santino’s talent. He can sing, play the piano, write music, act, and direct. Is there anything he can’t do? I love his name too. It totally fits a movie star. I wonder if he was born with that name. Did his mom have big plans for him?
Big Bird asked Mr. Mack Wilberg to conduct the orchestra so he showed off his baton waving skills. Grover and Cookie Monster took over the control room, with Cookie ultimately eating his headset. Elmo reported live from Temple Square. Bert and Ernie sang “Sing a Song” with Santino, and Elmo got to meet “The People in the Neighborhood” as the choir sang that number. Abby Cadabby and Rosita got to sing with the choir in their new matching choir dresses. You can see pictures here.
I have to say my favorite part was seeing Mr. Richard Elliott do the traditional organ solo. He has such amazing talent. All four of his limbs are going in opposite directions practically, without any music for him to read. The Count was behind the organ, cracking jokes about the Twelve Days of Christmas as he counted things in the Conference Center while Richard played. My next favorite part was seeing the voice actors and puppeteers come out at the very end with the Muppets on their hands. I am a behind-the-scenes girl who likes to know the inner workings of everything so that was the icing on the cake of surprises for me.
The show will be broadcast next year on PBS during Christmas time. This year, you can watch last year’s performance that involved David Rhys-Davies and Deborah Voigt. Above is the back story about it, and then you can watch the whole thing on the DVD “Let the Season In,” over here or on your local PBS channel.
To top it all off, here are most of the Muppets you’ve ever known and loved in a Muppet Family Christmas special.