Fraggle Rock's 25th Anniversary Panel
Ever since Sesame Street, my fascination with the Muppets and their creators has been a strong influence not only creatively, but also in an almost spiritual way. Jim Henson had a way of entertaining with a message that didn’t get crammed down your throat. And so it was with Fraggle Rock. According to Muppet performer Dave Goelz, the Fraggles came from an idea by Henson to create a show that could end war. The Fraggle stories resolved conflicts, interior and exterior, not to mention between familiar friends and alien (to them) races. 2008 marks the Fraggles’ 25th anniversary and to celebrate, Henson Productions (and presumably Disney) brought Goelz and performer Karen Prell, also known as Red Fraggle to a special sing-along panel.
After a brief introduction and history lesson by Dave Goelz, the audience was treated to rare footage taken on the final day, in the final hours of shooting for Fraggle Rock. In one very touching moment, the performers, rather than simply saying their goodbyes face to face, gathered the crew to the stage and spoke through their characters to thank them for the hard work and perserverance on 4 years of laughs, tears and everything in between.
The came Red. For the first time publicly, Karen Prell, decked out in black and wearing a headset, carried Red Fraggle out from behind a curtain and addressed the audience as the “Silly Creatures” fraggles would only know us to be. Prell never spoke as herself, only as Red, and helped the audience to become honorary Fraggles by leading them through Fraggle songs, tongue twisters and teaching them the Solemn Fraggle Oath: “Weeble Weeble, Waffel Waffel, weebump wogump, Whoopee!”.
Silly and childlike as it may sound, this was a unique, not to mention rare, opportunity to see a Muppeteer perform a character she not only helped to create, but has performed from the start. You really didn’t need to be 10 years old to enjoy or appreciate the performance, as was evident by the attendees in full demon-mutan-warrior costumes clapping their hands and singing about Thimblebugs.
Commemorating the 25th anniversary will be a 20+ DVD box set release of the show’s 4 seasons and bonus materials not found on previous releases, due out in August. Check back for a full review. Until then, don’t be afraid to be a little silly every now and then.