A Show Unlike Any Other
Angel hated the fact that he had to wait until the Saturday evening show at the Muppet Theater. It was finally open, the Blinnikov was finally going to be performing again... and he couldn't watch until the Saturday late show on account of lethal sunburns. Sometimes being a vampire was just no fun at all.
After discovering that it wasn't possible yet to buy tickets online for the Muppet Theater, though the website looked like that was planned for the future, Angel had growled curses in several languages. His fit of sulky temper had resulted in Cordelia pulling a cross on him and demanding, "What happened? The vampire that I've been working with doesn't usually swear like that... you haven't gone evil again, have you?"
Reaching up, he'd discovered that his other face had emerged, and he took several slow breathes to calm himself enough to look human again. "I'm not evil again. The Blinnikov is performing with the Muppet Theater this week, and I want to see them."
"You want to see the Muppets?" her raised eyebrow suggested that now rather than worrying about his soul, she was concerned for his sanity.
"No, I want to see the Blinnikov. If that means going somewhere infested with security ogres, then I'll go somewhere with security ogres and be very polite," He edged along the wall, trying to get a little more distance from the cross - it left him feeling all itchy and a little queasy... and very, very guilty.
"The swearing?" Cordelia prompted.
"You can't buy tickets online yet."
"Is that all? You had me worried that you'd gone evil again because a theater run by psychotic Muppets doesn't sell tickets online yet? Just chill and get a grip," Cordelia shook her head and sighed, "All this unneeded worry is going to give me wrinkles."
"Kermit did say that they'll be in need of special guests, since they plan on different guests each week," Angel offered.
"Hell no! Get out!" Cordelia swung the cross at him, her eyes wide and her heartbeat wild. "I'm not working with those dangerous lunatics!"
"Alright! Alright, it was just a thought," Angel ducked and slipped past her, his arm stinging from being so close to a cross. With reactions like that, he'd just let Cordelia worry about her acting career or lack thereof for herself.
It was four hours before the city was dark enough for Angel to safely leave for the Muppet Theater. Another ten minutes to drive there and almost as many to find a decent parking space. As he walked to the ticket booth, which had a strange shaggy creature inside, he hoped that the show wasn't sold out. The security ogres would prevent him from causing a scene... one way or another.
Ticket purchased, Angel made his way into the theater, passing a concession stand. Even with Muppets, he doubted that it would sell anything he'd find palatable. There were several boxes, with elegant polished wooden railings and wine red curtains that looked to be velvet. Rows of matching wine red chairs filled a large auditorium, the spacing generous enough to allow even ogres to sit comfortably. He could see a couple already in the audience, prompting large open spaces. His own seat was several chairs away from the nearest ogre, but still much closer than any of the other early arrivals.
Half an hour before the show was supposed to start, a small bear walked out past the heavy stage curtains, wearing a bowler hat, a polka dotted tie, and a brown vest. Angel could feel his eyebrows rising, and he wondered just what sort of things to expect from this bear.
"Hey, hey... I see we've got some people out there already! Are you guys ready for some entertainment? Laughter? Some good jokes?" the bear had a faint New York accent.
From one of the boxes, Angel heard a raspy voice mutter, "If they're waiting for good jokes, boy are they in the wrong place!"
"I got a joke for all of you out there. Why did the skeleton cross the road?" The bear looked around, his ears wobbling and his gaping smile looking oddly harmless. "To get to the body shop on the other side! Wocka wocka wocka..."
Angel winced. From above, he could hear an old man snort, "That joke's on its last leg."
The bear grinned again, one paw, or perhaps it was closer to a hand, lifting to adjust his tie, “What is the shark’s favorite sort of jelly?” He looked around, still grinning before he finished, “The jellyfish! Wocka wocka wocka…”
The old man in the box wasn’t the only person to groan or make some sort of insulting commentary.
The bear held up one hand to the audience, “Wait, I got another one! Why were the melons sad?”
Before he could utter the punch-line, he was being pelted with crumpled papers and tomatoes. From the box, he could hear the old man snort, “Maybe the melons had to listen to his jokes!” Another very similar voice added, “That would make me sad.”
The bear retreated off the right side of the stage. A short time later, a brown figure in blue overalls pushing a broom moved out, removing the tomato fragments and the crumpled papers. It wouldn’t do for the next act to falter or fall due to vegetables on the stage.
A little while after the janitor had quietly returned to the backstage area, Kermit the Frogg emerged, one hand holding a cordless microphone and the other a couple note cards. “That was Fozzy the Bear, a comedian who has no equal. We have a wonderful show planned for all of you tonight, and it is our sincerest hope that you enjoy the show. Tonight we have as our very special guests the Blinnikov World Ballet Corps, here all the way from Imperial Russia! And now, with no further fuss, let the show begin!”
The show opened with a song and dance routine the likes of which Angel had never imagined possible. There were chickens. There were hulking ogres shuffling across the stage, their deep voices keeping the audience awake. Strange, oversized bird-things with long feathers on their heads and tails. A groups of bipedal pigs. More Muppets, including a buxom blond with purple skin that reminded Angel far too much of the Count.
Angel had no words to describe the strange, short blue creature with the feathery eyebrows and the weird nose-beak that curved like a question marks that had fallen over. This weird creature was identified as Gonzo the Great, and he recited a British war poem as he was fired from a cannon.
That was followed by a skit put on by a group of the pigs. There was a star field in the background and a very fake looking bridge, as if on some sort of space craft. Pigs in Space, with Link Hogthrobb and Dr. Strangepork had a small misadventure with an antigravity ray… that left them falling to the walls, or drifting towards the ceiling. That was all sorts of disturbing.
“Get a load of those hams!” mocked the old man.
“We already are!” countered the second voice. “Ohohohoho…”
There was another skit, with a collection of Muppets and chickens in what he supposed looked like an old western Saloon. There was a bit about sarsaparilla and Big Bad Bart and possibly the letter Y. He hoped that they’d been shooting caps or blanks instead of real bullets, but wasn’t willing to find out.
As the orchestra began to play a graceful bit of Mozart, Angel was surprised to realize that there were penguins with flutes and cellos in their midst. There were several other Muppets, and even a scattering of human musicians. While it was certainly a bizarre gathering, they were talented.
The curtain lifted in the air, displaying to the audience the graceful movements of the Blinnikov. Dainty ballerinas glided across the stage on their toes, arms arched over their heads and flowers pinned to their hair, all of which was swept up into neat buns. The skittered and twirled around the stage to the Mozart, gradually joined by large birds. The birds had long, brilliantly colored feathers, and seemed to swirl into the pattern of the dance.
Halfway through the song, something began bothering the orchestra director, causing the classic precision of Mozart to deteriorate into something erratic, of uneven volume and tempo. The dancers and the birds kept their movements matched to the music, occasionally freezing in the middle of a turn or balancing on one elegant leg. After several forceful swishings of the orchestra director’s baton, the small figure toppled over into the orchestra pit with a crashing noise, the slitherings of paper, and what might have been a snapping string.
“Speed up the music!” The drummer’s shout held more than a little growl, and there was a thunder of drums that would have been more at home behind some of the awful metal or punk bands that Spike favored. Some of the orchestra valiantly tried to accompany the drums, abandoning the last traces of Mozart.
Angel watched as the Blinnikov and a rainbow of giant birds spun and leapt to the wildest rock music that he’d ever heard. He didn’t know if he was awed at the Blinnikov’s ability to adjust and keep time with this… entirely un-ballet-like music, or appalled that someone would dare try to combine their grace and elegance with this sort of musical assault.
By the end of the dance, Angel still didn’t know if he was furious at the drummer who had seized control of the orchestra or delighted at the resulting display. What he was certain of was that the dance had been awe inspiring, a display unlike anything that he’d ever witnessed.
He was also certain that the Muppet Theater had to stay safe. Not simply because they had the Count keeping their books – and his temper was fearsome and legendary. Not just from the efforts of menacing security ogres. They had given people the opportunity to see the Blinnikov… to see the Blinnikov put on the sort of show that no classical performance could equal. And it was a well known fact that sometimes acts returned to welcoming theaters. They might come back to this place. If they did, he’d be waiting.
End Muppet Contracts 21: A Show Unlike Any Other
End Muppet Contracts.