BWW Reviews: Ignite Theatre Presents a New Remount of AVENUE Q - Even Better the Second Time Around the Block
Ignite Theatre presents the hilarious AVENUE Q (Book by Jeff Whitty; Music & Lyrics by Robert Lopez & Jeff Marx) playing at the Aurora Fox Theatre now through November 3rd. AVENUE Q is a laugh-out-loud musical that tells the timeless story of a recent college grad named Princeton who moves into a shabby New York apartment all the way out on Avenue Q. There, he meets Kate (the girl next door), Rod (the Republican), Trekkie (the Internet sexpert), Lucy The Slut (need we say more?) and other colorful types who help Princeton finally discover his purpose in life.
What can I say, this amazing ensemble hit it out of the ballpark once again with this exciting and hilarious remount Avenue Q. While I absolutely adored the original production at Vintage Theatre, there was a fascinating evolution to this version 2.0. This company went from a group of nervous and eager actors hoping to prove themselves in the regional premiere of this multi Tony award winning juggernaut into a group of friends playing characters that they were comfortable with and loved and just had fun with it. From the new inflections in their parts and side-splitting ad libs, I have to admit that I actually enjoyed this production more than previous ones I have seen (including the national tour)! You could tell that this cast loved their parts and the friendships were there that made it effortless to play off one another for maximum comedy and delight of the audience.
Keith Rabin Jr. once again proves his skills and carries the plot with charm as Princeton and I loved him singing Purpose. Carolyn Lohr was as adorable as ever as Kate Monster and seductive as Lucy The Slut. I adored her rendition of Fine, Fine Line that had the attention of everyone in the audience. Patrick Brownson had me tearing up and doubling over in pain with so much laughter as the ever so horny,Trekki Monster and had everyone in stitches with The Internet is for Porn. Mark Shonsey (Nicky). I have to give a standing ovation to Steffan Scrogan as Rod. I cannot even imagine the pressure that comes from being the only "new guy" in a cast that is versed in these roles and completely comfortable with each other. Steffan totally stood out and held his own in his hilarious and gay melodramatic interpretation of the closeted Rod. Job very well done and I especially loved Fantasies Come True! Rod's roommate, Nicky (played to perfection by Mark Shonsey) was also superb and had that voice down perfectly (He totally rocked If You Were Gay). Arlene Rapal rocked it, once again as the over the top and everyone's favorite Asian, Christmas Eve and killed it with her song, The More You Rub Someone. Her other half, Brian (comically played by Eric Fry) was just wonderful and Eric totally looked and played the part. Anna High was also simply fabulous as Gary Coleman and you could tell this talented actress was just having fun with her role. You can Be as Loud as the Hell You Want was one of the many highlight numbers from this awesome singer.
Director Bernie Cardell and Music Director Trent Hines worked so well to really bring out those amazing voices and maximize the comedy in this memorable show. I have to further compliment Bernie for giving this show a little face-lift that kept it fresh and kept the audience laughing in this new production. I also loved the choreography by Kelly Van Oosbree that infused a youthful and fun energy into so many of the songs (especially It Sucks to Be Me, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist, and Schaudenfreude). The set, by designer Mike Uhlenkamp was also excellent and full up fun, peekaboo windows and doors and I loved that they had the band just in back of the set.
It will Suck to be You if you do not see this hilarious and thoroughly enjoyable evening of comedy! Ignite Theatre's AVENUE Q is killing audiences with laughter now through November 3rd at the Aurora Fox Studio Theatre. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. with additional shows on Thursday, October 24th and 31st. For tickets or more information, contact Ignite Theatre by calling 720-362-2697 or online at www.ignitetheatre.com. The Aurora Fox Theatre is located at 9900 East Colfax Avenue in Aurora.