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Juhls to Speak in Caspar
A Career with Frogs and Bears
On Sunday evening, March 13th, two of the coast's quiet luminaries will reveal secrets about their behind-the-scenes parenting of some of the world's favorite fictional characters.
For 37 years Jerry and Susan Juhl's careers shaped the Jim Henson Organization, where Jerry wrote for Sesame Street, was head writer for The Muppet Show, creative producer for Fraggle Rock and the Jim Henson Hour, and variously involved in "a small cartload" of specials and other projects. Susan's quiet but undeniable presence shone through in this work, but she took credit for being writer and script editor for the enormously memorable Fraggle Rock television series. During their careers with the Hensons, they lived in New York, London, and Toronto, but for eighteen years they have resided in Caspar.
In their evening talk, Jerry and Susan will discuss Jim Henson's contribution to puppetry, children's television, and the movies, with stories about their work on many Henson projects. They will illustrate their talk with some memorabilia and home movies collected during their career.
Jerry and Susan are often on the road on behalf of the non-profit Jim Henson Legacy project, where they encounter enthusiastic fans of their work. In a recent interview for the Caspar Community Newsletter (to be found at CasparCommons.org) Jerry recalled one recent trip: "Last November we went back to a two-day Henson retrospective at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. It was exciting: they had three venues, good crowds..." Susan continued, "...and lots of people remembered the Fraggle Rock theme song. Now, as a result of a petition on the web that 30,000 people signed, the first season of Fraggle Rock is just about to be released on DVD." The Juhls sometimes tour to lecture and teach. One of Jerry's favorite venues is UC Santa Cruz, where, he explains, "there's actually a college course on the Muppets, which I thought was pretty amazing until the professor explained it's a ruse to get students to discuss puppetry and pop culture."
Susan's voice is well known to local classical music listeners, because she has hosted a bi-weekly program on local public radio station KZYX. Formerly called "The Wolfgang Gang," the program is now "Loose Canon Classics," Susan explains, "because you never know what I'm going to play -- a lot of contemporary American compositions, accessible, no serialism or twelve-tone, along with the older classical music. You can tune in first and second Tuesdays of the month from 10am until noon."
Judy Tarbell, president of Caspar Community, is excited that the Juhls are speaking in Caspar. "Susan and Jerry have been very important to Caspar's success, offering their skills and support in innumerable ways. We've always known their were Muppets and Fraggles in their family, but this is the first time they've been willing to introduce them to their coastal neighbors." Recently, the Juhls endowed a state-of-the-art audio-visual system for the Caspar Community Center, and Judy is busily building an A-V Trolley to keep it safe and easily usable. Both the trolley and the AV system will be unveiled at the Sunday evening event.
"Many Caspars -- and Coasters -- are amazingly talented yet retiring," Judy continues. "Most of us came here to live quietly and be left alone. One true test of our rebounding sense of community is that some of our luminaries, like Susan and Jerry, have found a comfortable place to share their fascinating lives with neighbors and friends. The Juhls were among the first to recognize the magic of the Caspar Community Center, and to move us toward its acquisition. This evening talk is a coming out party for Caspar, and I hope many, many friends will join us.
There will be a nominal charge of $5 at the door, and the proceeds benefit Caspar Community.
written by Michael Potts for the Fort Bragg Advocate, for publication 10 March 2005
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