‘Avenue Q’: Puppets with real life moments

 

If it’s irreverent, if it’s politically incorrect, if it’s this
side of raunchy with a velvet glove most of the time
– and sometimes just raunchy – you’ll find it in

Avenue Q

.
If it’s irreverent, if it’s politically incorrect, if it’s this side of raunchy with a velvet glove most of the time – and sometimes just raunchy – you’ll find it in “Avenue Q”.

The 2004 Tony Award winning show is by playwright Jeff Whitty with music and lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx. The story and lyrics are clever and hit the mark with meaning that reaches and touches each listener on their own personal level. It features puppets playing the characters, in “Sesame Street” meeting “Desperate Housewives” in a bad neighborhood without a censor.

Choreographed by Ken Roberson with people handling the puppets, they create personalities and pour out emotions with their expressions and body movements. They meld with their characters and the audience sees puppet and actor as one and feels their emotional happiness and pain as one.

Brent Michael DiRoma and Jacqueline Grabois deftly handle a handful of the main characters and more than pleasantly sing, dance and move in intricate patterns to bring this delightfully, risque bit of theatre to life. The entire cast falls into this pattern, moving the characters with stopwatch timing and genuine sensibility. When they deliver “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist,” the audience realizes they are in for a humorous, profound ride.

When Princeton (DiRoma) realizes a bachelor’s degree isn’t delivering its promise and things couldn’t get much worse, he sings “It Sucks to Be Me.” When the closeted gay Republican investment banker Rod (McClure) suffers because he can’t reveal his true feelings for his loveable mangy roommate Nicky (Jason Heymann), a sense of sadness is felt. Kate Monster and Lucy T. Slut (Grabois), who later finds religion, are the love interest in this funny poignant piece and brings a little of what goes on around us every day. The production includes Christmas Eve (Lisa Helmi Johanson), Gary Coleman (Nigel Jamaal Clark) and Trekie Monster (Haymann), who explains “The Internet is for porn” and completely disillusions Kate.

There is even an X-rated scene that, while cleverly done, could give a nervous jar to the senses of some folks. (They do warn – “Parent advisory – not for little ones.”)

This is not for everyone, but if the production is approached with an open mind and a flexible sense of humor, “Avenue Q” will entertain. The humor and the inventiveness of the presentation and the talent of the people involved can prove to be a unique experience.

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