BWW Review: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood of AVENUE Q
Music & Lyrics by Robert Lopez & Jeff Marx, Book by Jeff Whitty, Based on an original concept by Robert Lopez & Jeff Marx, Directed by Spiro Veloudos; Music Director, Catherine Stornetta; Choreographer, Ilyse Robbins; Puppets Conceived and Designed by Rick Lyon; Animation Design by Robert Lopez; Orchestrations and Arrangements by Stephen Oremus; Scenic Design, Kathryn Kawecki; Costume Design, David Cabral; Lighting Design, Franklin Meissner, Jr.; Sound Design, Arshan Gailus; Puppet Coach, Roxanna Myhrum; Puppetry Instructor, Jonathan Little; Production Stage Manager, Nerys Powell; Assistant Stage Manager, Cat Dunham Meilus
Imagine a convoy of U-hauls snaking around the block on Clarendon Street filled with all the people jockeying to get into the Avenue Q neighborhood before rents go up or tickets run out. Whether you’ve seen the show before or not, you don’t want to miss the Lyric Stage Company production of Avenue Q which rivals the national tour that passed this way four years ago. Soon to be the number one seller in the Lyric’s 37-year history, AQ’s closing date has been extended (twice) to July 1st.
Director Spiro Veloudos, Music Director Catherine Stornetta, and Choreographer Ilyse Robbins have collaborated to make their Avenue Q an extremely desirable neighborhood, featuring one of the best musical ensemble casts of the season. Great voices? Check. Comedic acting skills? Check. Playful puppeteers? Check. Seven humans share the stage with nine felt or fur characters, and you could say that several symbiotic relationships have been formed among them. John Ambrosino, Erica Spyres, Phil Tayler, and Elise Arsenault meld hand-in-glove with their alter egos making it difficult to discern where the puppets end and the humans begin. Credit Puppet Coach Roxanna Myhrum and Puppetry Instructor Jonathan Little from the Puppet Showplace Theatre in Brookline with seamlessly indoctrinating the foursome into the world of Puppetry Arts.
Puppets have burst onto the scene in a number of shows this spring, but none of the others (except, perhaps, Little Shop of Horrors) features them as prominently or places them in the position of carrying the storyline. Avenue Q introduces Princeton (Ambrosino), a recent college grad with no job and no skills, who can’t afford to live anywhere else. While settling for an apartment in this shabby borough, he ends up getting much more than he anticipates. His eclectic neighbors include Kate Monster (Spyres), an assistant Kindergarten teacher; Brian (Harry McEnerny V), a 33-year old unemployed comedian, and his fiancée Christmas Eve (Jenna Lea Scott), a Japanese social worker who lacks paying clients; a closeted Republican financier named Rod (Ambrosino), who shares an apartment with his slacker friend Nicky (Tayler and Arsenault); Trekkie Monster (Tayler), an internet porn addict; and the building’s super, former child star Gary Coleman (Davron S. Monroe). As Princeton searches for his purpose, along the way he must deal with temptations placed in his path by Lucy The Slut (Spyres), an oversexed cabaret artist, as well as the two Bad Idea Bears (Tayler and Arsenault).