Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas, A Jim Henson Classic on Stage

Ben Mathew, Nick Cearley, Andy Mientus and Steven Huynh in Jim Henson’s Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas. Credit: Michael Brosilow
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Growing up I loved watching all those holiday specials and movies that aired during the most wonderful time of the year. While I had never watched Jim Henson’s Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas on television, I was looking forward to this production as I had enjoyed other Jim Henson shows as a child. 

Based on the television special originally created by the legendary puppeteer Jim Henson, and on the illustrated book Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas by Russell Hoban and Lillian Hoban; this family-friendly musical features music and lyrics by Paul Williams (The Muppet Movie), with book by lead producer Timothy Allen McDonald (Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach) and director/choreographer Christopher Gattelli (Newsies).

Kathleen Elizabeth Monteleone, Andy Mientus

The story takes us to Frogtown Hollow, where alongside other residents, we also meet Ma and Emmet Otter who with Christmas just around the corner, they risk what little they have to make each other’s holiday dreams come true. Each wanting to buy a Christmas present they each are convinced will make it a wonderful Christmas for the other, they each unknowingly enter the town’s Christmas Eve talent show in the hopes of winning the grand prize of $50 for said gift. 

From the start of the show I could not help but feel a childhood nostalgia rush back when seeing the puppets on stage that Jim Henson was known for. A blend of humans and puppets, this heartwarming story is filled with humor and cheer. I laughed and smiled as the talented cast took us through the tale rooting for Emmet and Jug-Band and his Ma as they tried to make it the best Christmas. The songs were fabulous and every performer shined. Dare I say I can’t imagine the television version being better? Not to mention that there are some scene stealing puppet squirrels that pop-up in scenes here and there. For those who attend, you will see what I mean and why I thought it was one of the best parts. It felt like time flew by during the show.

Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas is a fabulous show that both adults and children will enjoy. A perfect production to enjoy with family and friends this season. Don’t miss it. 

Cast in Waterville

Premiering in Chicago, the 75 minute show runs through December 31, 2023, at the Studebaker Theater at the historic Fine Arts Building, 410 South Michigan Avenue. Tickets, starting at $43, are now on sale at the Studebaker Theatre box office (410 South MichiganAvenue), fineartsbuilding.com/studebaker/, and 312-753-3210.

Follow Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and TikTok at
EmmetOtterLive. The official website is www.EmmetOtterLive.com.

Photo Credit: Michael Brosilow

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