The Simpsons Take The Bowl

bart ATG FINAL

What: The Simpsons 25th Anniversary Bash
Where: The Hollywood Bowl
Location: 2301 North Highland Avenue, Hollywood

Hollywood Bowl Sign ATG FINAL


Admittedly, it’s been a long while since I’ve actually snuggled up on the couch to watch an episode of The Simpsons, and yet, it still feels so deeply embedded as apart of my life. Perhaps it’s because the show is almost as old as I am. I have plenty of fond memories closing out the weekend as a kid on Sunday nights, laughing hysterically at the antics of the residents of Springfield over a bowl of ice cream with my family. I even recall coming home after school catching re-runs as I finished up my homework most evenings of the week.

I remember the big “Who Shot Mr. Burns?” cliff-hanger. I loved catching the cleverly-produced Halloween specials every fall. And I can still hear Krusty the Clown’s crazy laugh in my head at any given moment…20 years later.

It’s no surprise then that watching Nancy Cartwright perform “Do the Bartman” would instantly feel so reminiscent, which Yeardley Smith shared on-stage that night was in fact, written by Michael Jackson. And speaking of Michael Jackson – I teared up with child-like awe when they showed the clip of the iconic episode, “Stark Raving Dad,” featuring Leon Kompowsky, a patient Homer meets during a stint in a mental institution who believes he’s Michael Jackson. Fun fact I learned that night:  MJ did Leon’s voice talent, but hired an impersonator, Kipp Lennon to sing “Happy Birthday, Lisa.” Kipp Lennon came out moments later and performed it live. It was pretty incredible. His resemblance to the late King of Pop’s voice undeniable.

The Simpsons ATG FINAL{The line was too long to take a picture on the famous Simpsons couch, so I snapped a quick photo in between set-ups for the next person. Insert me on the left.}

It’s only fitting then that to salute the longest running American sitcom ever, that The Simpsons would do it big.

And big they did.

For three consecutive nights under the stars (and during the worst heat wave ever!) at the equally iconic Hollywood Bowl, The Simpsons took reign to celebrate 25 years of laughter. The entire venue became a salute to Springfield. Donuts hung above you, Homer and Marge were available for photos, Simpsons-themed treats made for sale at the concession stands, and some of the most memorable residents of Springfield made an appearance as you made your way through the amphitheater.

Simpsons Characters ATG FINAL{The cast made appearances at every turn.}

Themed Snacks ATG FINAL{Simpsons-themed pink donuts, Flaming Moe’s and Duff Energy Drinks for sale throughout the venue.}

Donuts to greet you ATG FINAL{Donuts hung above you. Photo ops abound.}

Marge Bathrooms ATG FINAL{Even the women’s restrooms signs became “Simpson-ized.”}

Hollywood Bowl_Wide View ATG FINAL{Getting to our seats…yes, we were waaaay in the back! The good news: there isn’t a bad seat at the Hollywood Bowl.}

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We attended the last night of the show, the Bowl’s final performance for the summer 2014 season and unarguably the warmest night of the year.

What a treat to see the residents of Springfield come to life accompanied by the world class Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. Co-hosts Hank Azaria, Nancy Cartwright, and Yeardley Smith did a seamless job slipping in and out of character, easily being themselves during their hosting duties, but seemingly even more comfortable voicing their iconic characters throughout the night.

Bart, Lisa, the vampy Lurleen Lumpkin, Chief and Ralph Wiggum, Apu, and Moe among others all made appearances during the performance. (I’m always amazed at how many different voices one actor alone does on the show!)

Special guests graced the stage throughout the evening to sing in-character, or share thoughts about their time working with The Simpsons: Beverly D’Angelo, John Lovitz, ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic, Conan O’Brien (who I didn’t know was a writer on the show! How did I miss that!?!), Kipp Lennon; and a hysterically sweet monologue opening the show by creator, Matt Groening.

If had to pick my three favorite moments of the night, I’ve already mentioned two. It would be Nancy Cartwright rapping straight 90’s style as Bart in “Do the Bartman,” and Kipp Lennon singing “Happy Birthday, Lisa.” My third would be the fireworks extravaganza that closed the show.

Noticeably absent from the festivities (and much to my disappointment) was Homer and Marge themselves, Dan Castellaneta and Julie Kavner. Admittedly, they weren’t in the billing when we bought the tickets, but I thought perhaps they might pop-up for a moment as a “special surprise” to dupe us all. They didn’t. How can you have a tribute to The Simpsons without the patriarch and first lady of Springfield?

Despite this and the nearly 100° temperatures, it was a memorable evening and the perfect way to say goodbye to summer, but hello to a renewed relationship with The Simpsons.

Night ATG FINAL{The Bowl lights up at night like no other.}

To say that The Simpsons is television royalty is an understatement. As I wrap up my thoughts about the evening and what the show itself has done culturally, I can’t help but be awed at how the brains behind The Simpsons created an entire world that’s all to familiar to me, living through even another generation as I type this. The depth of character development in nearly every re-occurring resident of Springfield boggles my mind. The concept that we have memories associated with everyone from the Qwickie Mart owner to the bartender, to the richest man in town speaks volumes of the world that Matt Groening created. Add in the cultural idioms and phrases coined by the show (“Eat my shorts” and “Doh!” readily come to mind) and you have pure genius at play if you ask me.

Spending an evening celebrating 25 years of entertainment brought back so many happy memories from my childhood. In fact, it makes me want to spend more time with America’s never-aging family, to see what everyone in Springfield has been up to.

The Simpson’s 26th season starts this Sunday, September 28th. I plan on snuggling up on the couch and closing my weekend like I did all those years ago, by catching up with The Simpsons once again.

Bowl Fireworks ATG FINAL{Fireworks to close the show.}

 

{A behind the scenes look at prepping for a night at The Bowl.}

Peter ATG FINAL

{And in the midst of all things The Simpsons….you gotta love their sense of humor.}

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