The first Royal Variety Performance was held July 1st, 1912, at Palace Theatre, Shaftsbury Avenue, London. King George V said that he would attend a variety show once every year, if the profit were given to the Variety Artistes' Benevolent Fund. Every year since then the Royal Family have attended the show at various theaters around London. For the various Muppet appearances, the reigning sovereign has been Queen Elizabeth II. Since 1999, the show has also been presented in Birmingham, Edinburgh and Cardiff.
The 1977 Royal Variety Performance was held on November 27th, 1977. The show was hosted by Bob Hope, and other participants that year included Rudolf Nureyev, Rich Little, Cleo Laine, Julie Andrews, and Harry Belafonte who performed 'Turn the World Around'. Jack Parnell conducted the orchestra.
Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Jerry Nelson, Richard Hunt, Dave Goelz, and Louise Gold performed a sketch in which the Muppets start swapping pig jokes. Miss Piggy is furious, but Kermit the Frog cheers her up by leading the group in "We Got Us". In the group of Muppets was Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo, Scooter, Floyd, Animal, Rowlf and Robin.
Statler and Waldorf are sitting in the box opposite the royal family, make the occasional comment between acts.
The Mutations, Mean Mama, Sweetums, Doglion and Timmy Monster do a choreographed dance act to a classical piece by Jacques Offenbach. They keep bumping into each other and falling over and end up fighting with the stage manager, played by Jerry Nelson. Sweetums also gets into a fight with a violinist (Dave Goelz) and throws him off the stage.
After the finale of the show, Bob Hope brings out the performers on stage. Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Jerry Nelson, Richard Hunt and Dave Goelz come on stage with Sweetums, Timmy, Mean Mama and Doglion.
The audio track for "We Got Us" was released the following year as a track on 1978's The Muppet Show 2 cast album.
The 1984 Children's Royal Variety Performance took place at Her Majesty's Theatre in London on March 4th, 1984. It was held in the presence of Anne, Princess Royal, to aid the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).
Fulton MacKay appeared in character as The Captain, representing the British production of Fraggle Rock. The routine included his dog Sprocket and Muppet performers David Barclay, Brian Henson, Mak Wilson, and Ian Thom. An edited version later aired on television on June 23rd, 1984.
1988 Children's Royal Variety Performance was performed at the Victoria Palace Theatre, London in aid of the NSPCC wth the Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon attending.
Kermit sang Bein' Green. Statler and Waldorf are seen in one of the theater boxes commenting the show.
The 1993 Royal Variety Performance was held on November 14th. At the beginning of the telecast, Kermit and Miss Piggy chat with presenter Gloria Hunniford, whom Piggy mistakes for a program seller. When asked if they rub elbows with the big stars, Kermit answers that they don't have much of a choice as performers are thirty to a dressing room.
The Muppet appearance was divided into three scenes. First, host Cilla Black introduced Kermit and Miss Piggy. Kermit had prepared a little speech and was getting small pointers from Miss Piggy. Miss Piggy also took the chance for a girl-to-girl talk with Cilla. Afterwards, Kermit and Miss Piggy were going to sing a song about how they first met, with the help of non-talented musicians hired by Gonzo. The musicians had trouble playing the song. Miss Piggy asked what the tone deaf normally play these days, and as they start playing, Gonzo introduces the next act: "Yes indeed. It's the rightfully famous Right Said Fred."
The scenery, including Kermit, Miss Piggy and Gonzo, leaves the stage and a Right Said Fred medley begins, with the help of Doglion, Sweetums, the Clodhoppers, Fletcher Bird and the Bossmen. The medley ends with everyone going out to the edge of the stage with the puppeteers in plain sight, dressed in all black.
After an opera number, Statler and Waldorf are seen in one of the theater boxes.
Waldorf: "I love opera."
Statler: "Oh yeah, me too. She hosts one of the best talk shows on TV."
Waldorf: "Have you completely lost your mind?"
Statler: "No not yet. But then I haven't seen all the acts."
- Puppeteers: Dave Goelz, Jerry Nelson, Steve Whitmire, and Frank Oz.
- Uncredited puppeteers included Bill Barretta (Doglion), John Henson (Sweetums), Tony Lymboura, Michelan Sisti, Mak Wilson (Clodhoppers), Brian Henson, Rick Lyon, and Ian Tregonning (Bossmen).
- Of Muppets and Men, pg. 91
- "The Royal Variety Performance: The Silver Jubilee Royal Variety Gala", BFI Film & TV Database.
- Jim Henson's Red Book 4/24/1988 – ‘Children’s Variety Show in London.’ April 24, 2012
- "Children's Royal Variety Performance", BFI Film & TV Database.
- royalvarietycharity.org - Performance archive listing
- Tony Lymboura on Twitter.