Wellington to host world-first Jim Henson Retrospectacle with Bret McKenzie and the NZSO

Bret McKenzie will reunite with characters from the world of Jim Henson in Wellington for a special world-first event.

Flight of the Conchords actor / comedian Bret McKenzie will perform live in concert with characters from the world of Jim Henson from April 9 - 29 as part of a world-first event in Wellington, New Zealand.

The Jim Henson Retrospectacle In Concert is a world première live concert event with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and Bret McKenzie, who will be joined on stage by Jim Henson’s characters.

The concert will take place during the final weekend with live concert performances at the Michael Fowler Centre—on Friday 27 April and Saturday 28 April 2018—will coincide with the school holidays.

“At its heart, the Jim Henson Retrospectacle is a loving tribute to the power of creative spirit and collaboration. This is a rare opportunity to marvel at the scope and huge appeal of Jim Henson’s work for its groundbreaking artistry; to see much-loved characters live on stage with Bret McKenzie and the NZSO; to go deep into Jim Henson’s  extensive and brilliant early works; to look closely at Jim’s life, partnerships and life-affirming inspirations; and to consider the impact of his unique imagination and outlook within New Zealand’s own creative community,” says Square Eyes Film Foundation Director Nic Marshall.

A film fortnight series and workshops and masterclasses with Jim Henson’s puppeteers will run in April as part of the Retrospectacle.

Te Papa o Tongarewa, New Zealand’s national museum  will host Behind the Seams panels, workshops and master classes by Henson alumni including Bonnie Erickson, puppet designer, whose most notable creations include Miss Piggy and Statler and Waldorf; many Sesame Street perfomers; and veteran Muppet Performer Dave Goelz who for four decades has been bringing to life such Muppet characters as the Great Gonzo, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and the Electric Mayhem’s sax player, Zoot, with participation from Weta Workshop artists.

“Today, as ever, Jim Henson’s creations and filmmaking continue to bring great happiness to adults and children alike. Weta Workshop has a strong association with the work of Jim Henson and I feel a particular affinity with Jim’s artistic outlook and vision, as he has been inspirational in our collective careers here at Weta Workshop. Jim’s visionary fantasy films The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth have earned their place in cinematic history as must-see classics of their genre.” Says Sir Richard Taylor.

Fifteen characters from across The Jim Henson Company, The Muppets Studio & Sesame Workshop are expected to attend, thanks to a partnership with Square Eyes Film Foundation and the Jim Henson Legacy.

Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city, is a creative hub and is at the heart of New Zealand’s film industry. Wellington – sometimes referred to as “Wellywood” – comes complete with its own version of the Hollywood sign, which should make the global superstars feel right at home while they are in town.

McKenzie was born in Wellington and it was here he met Jemaine Clement and formed Flight of the Conchords, the group that shot the duo to international stardom. McKenzie will host Jim Henson’s characters in his hometown and he will no doubt be happy to share the secrets of the eccentric city.

Square Eyes Film Foundation was established to present quality and diverse collective viewing alternatives for young and young-at-heart audiences. Square Eyes has been programming All Ages films for the New Zealand International Film Festival since 2008.

Tickets for The Jim Henson Retrospectacle events go on sale to the general public from Thursday 8 February 2018, 9am through Ticketmaster.

Wellington’s top five must-dos

WETA Workshop – the team that brought New Zealand’s creativity and special effects ability to the world’s attention open their door to tourists looking to see what it’s like behind the scenes.  Take a tour of the incredible studio that brought to life The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Trilogies.

Te Papa o Tongarewa – New Zealand’s national museum, Te Papa o Tongarewa celebrates its 20th birthday this year. A great place to learn about New Zealand’s history, Te Papa showcases art, history, Pacific, Māori, and the natural environment with impressive collections.

Cuba St – no other place is a better example of Wellington’s creative subcultures than Cuba St. A stroll along this colourful inner-city pedestrian precinct will delight the senses as it highlights Wellington’s eccentric vibe.

Zealandia Ecosanctuary – who would have thought a giant ecosanctuary could thrive just 15 minutes from downtown Wellington. Zealandia aims to restore its 225-hectare ecosanctuary to a pre-human state and has created an incredible experience just a stone’s throw from the city.

Wellington Cable Car – ride the famous cable car for an awesome view at the top of the city. Make your way back down the hill through the beautiful Wellington Botanic Gardens or stroll down through the Victorian-era streets of the university precinct.