The Muppet Theater is the setting for The Muppet Show -- a grand old vaudeville house that has seen better days. In episode 106, Kermit identifies the name of the theater as The Benny Vandergast Memorial Theater, although by the time of It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie, it is simply called "The Muppet Theater."
According to The Phantom of the Muppet Theater, the theater was built by a stage actor named John Stone in 1802. At some point a production of Hamlet ran in the theater, with Stone playing the title role. An alternate exterior is also shown in the book. The original exterior can be seen at the end of The Muppets Go to the Movies. It was renovated by the time of It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie.
Locations seen in the Muppet Theater are backstage right, the dressing rooms, the attic, the canteen, the prop room, the storage room, the boiler room, the stage, the house, the stage door lobby, and the back alley. In The Comic Muppet Book and Bo Saves the Show there is also a cellar where the monsters stay in.
Scooter's uncle J.P. Grosse owns the theater, and rents it to the Muppets, as Scooter is only too happy to remind Kermit. In a deleted scene from It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie, Kermit reveals that J.P. has passed away and left the theater to the Muppets. This would have taken place sometime after 1997, as J.P. can be seen (and referred to as such by the head of the KMUP network) in Muppets Tonight episode 102 and was last seen at KMUP in episode 206.
According to the events of It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie, as of December 24, 2002, the theater is an Official Historical Landmark. It can never be torn down nor changed. It will always remain the Muppet Theater, no matter who owns it.
In The Muppet Show Comic Book: The Treasure of Peg-Leg Wilson, Rizzo the Rat and his team of rats have torn it down in their search for the Treasure of Peg-Leg Wilson.
The theater also appears in the 2011 film The Muppets, where it's located next door to Muppet Studios. The exterior of the El Capitan Theatre served as The Muppet Theater exterior during filming, providing it with the British English spelling, "The Muppet Theatre." Production designer Steve Saklad was charged with re-creating the theatre interior. The set itself was reworked from a 1925 set built for The Phantom of the Opera. Of the task, Saklad said:
|“|| They go into the theater, and really the heart of our movie is the transformation of the theater from the way they first find it, which is completely desolate, condemned by the board of health, pigeons are flying around in the open holes in the ceiling.
Eventually they transform this — this nasty looking place into the sort of glory days of the Muppet Theater. Now I should explain, the — the theater was very important to us to get right. In the old TV show, there’s a simplified version of a kind of Muppet Theater. It’s kind of sweet and quaint; not very real looking. Our story is this: Once, there was a real Muppet Theater; great old, 100-year-old, Vaudeville Theater with ghosts and history, and these great acts that had always played there.
We’ll show you the full front of the audience, all the on-stage workings with the pin rails and the dimmer boards, and all the backstage areas and the dressing rooms all in one great space, so that you can go anywhere within that theater. You can go from the front of the audience up onto the stage, over to Kermit’s table, and then up the stairs and go right into Piggy’s dressing room, and it will all — always all be right there. So this was the sketch I did to transform a standing set that exists at Universal Studios for the Phantom of the Opera. This set was built in 1925. It’s still there. It’s a — it’s a relic that we — that — it’s historical, you know, sort of, it’s a space that no one can touch.
So we went in, transformed it into a classic, Broadway-style theater, front of house. We built a proscenium, we built everything behind the proscenium, which this model shows to encompass our backstage. And here are some of the shots of the very decrepit first look at the theater, and then how it gets transformed into the shiny, sparkly, ready-for-opening-night look.
Special tribute was paid to Muppets creator Jim Henson, with the theater's curtain rail system donning the installation date of September 24, 1936, the day Henson was born. The date can be spotted briefly in a scene that shows the Muppets sleeping on the rafters and in hammocks on stage.
- Kermit the Frog: Host, performer
- Pops: Doorman, box office
- Scooter: Go-fer
- George the Janitor
- Beauregard: Janitor and stagehand
- Beaker: Stagehand, lab assistant
- Hilda: Wardrobe
- Gladys: Canteen staff
- The Swedish Chef: Canteen staff, performer
- Fozzie Bear: Stand-up comedian
- Gonzo: Stunt Performer
- Miss Piggy: Performer
- Lew Zealand: Performer
- Wayne and Wanda: Singers
- The Electric Mayhem: House band
- Nigel: Conductor
- The Muppet Orchestra
- Security Guard
- J. P. Grosse: owner
- Rachel Bitterman: owner
- The Muppet Show, all episodes except episode 308 (1976-1981)
- The Muppets Go to the Movies (1981)
- Polaroid commercials (1981)
- Playhouse Video series (1985)
- Hey, You're as Funny as Fozzie Bear (1988)
- The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson (1990)
- Muppet Classic Theater (1994)
- V-Chip commercial, The Toreador Song (1999)
- Weezer's "Keep Fishin'" music video (2002)
- It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie (2002)
- CanTeen commercial (2005)
- The Muppets (2011)
- LittleBigPlanet (2012)
- The Muppet Show Book (1978)
- Muppet Show Advent calendar (1979)
- The Comic Muppet Book (1979)
- The Muppets comic strip (1981-1986)
- Bo Saves the Show (1982)
- Two for the Show (1982)
- Jim Henson's Bedtime Stories (1989)
- Foo-Foo, Where Are You? (1991)
- The Phantom of the Muppet Theater (1991)
- The Muppet Show Comic Book (2009-2010)
- I Am Kermit the Frog (2011)
- The Muppets: Meet the Muppets (2011)
- The Muppets: Theater Stage Set (2011)