From A to Z – Avenue Q, the puppet friendly, delightful triple Tony Award winning musical (Best Musical, Best Score – Robert Lopez & Jeff Marx and Best Book- Jeff Whitty – 2004) is still the freshest, funniest, most original, happy go lucky musical to ever have run for six years on Broadway (closing September 13th) only to reopen Off-Broadway at New World Stages on October 14th. Director Jason Moore has whipped this concoction into a froth fest of bubbly laughter.
For those diehard fans that want to revisit the show you will not be disappointed. For those of you who do not know what you are missing, you now have the opportunity to find out.
On a terrific set by Anna Louizos representing a row of houses on Avenue Q, with windows that open and shut in typical Laugh-In style, we meet the residents and their puppet alter egos. There is Brian (Nicholas Kohn) a would be comedian and his Japanese therapist girl friend Christmas Eve (Sala Iwamatsu) who keeps berating him to get a job. (They are puppet less).
Times are tough. The economy is bad. And jobs are scarce. Newcomer Princeton (a fantastic Seth Rettberg) a twenty something guy seeking an affordable place to live, fits right in with the other misfits – singing “It Sucks to be Me”. Doubling as Rod (a closet homosexual shhh!) who lives with his best friend Nicky (Cullen R. Titmas) who also is Trekkie Monster (addicted to porn on the internet). Then there is Kate Monster (a marvelous Anika Larsen) who is a lonely teacher. She doubles as Lucy – a Mae West red hot to trot vamp.
Puppets have never been so ribald. Nor have I ever seen puppets have sex while singing. This merry romp of a musical is your adult version of Sesame Street – where Big Bird has been replaced by an actor whose character’s name is Gary Coleman (Danielle K. Thomas) replete with his self deprecating asides.
Pretty large hand held puppets that have been created by Rick Lyon are manipulated by the actors portraying their characters. It’s amazing just to watch them in action. It’s a laugh filled, melodic, satirical, inventive and unique musical from opening number to final curtain call.
Underlying all, beats an extremely sincere and intelligent heart with the intent of instilling in everyone the need to find their own purpose in life. Avenue Q makes its point and makes it well with music that is tuneful and zippy and lyrics that are sharp and clever while speaking about racism, one night stands, schadenfreude (they explain), sex (both gay and straight), friendship, love, homelessness, generosity, perverts and that whatever misfortunes you have they are fleeting – they are just for now.
Hopefully Avenue Q is not just for now. I expect Avenue Q to have an even longer life at New World Stages. It certainly deserves it. www.avenueq.com