Farmington Players Present AVENUE Q, 8/10-25

Farmington Players Present AVENUE Q, 8/10-25

What if "Cookie Monster" were addicted to more than just double stuffed Oreos? Are the rumors about Bert & Ernie really true? Can puppets actually do EVERYTHING humans do, including THAT? You will find the answer to these questions and more when you take a trip down Avenue Q at The Farmington Players Barn and follow the witty characters on their mission to prove "there is life outside your apartment."

Avenue Q is edgy, sassy and an exciting change in the Barn's typical lineup. If you think it's sizzling outside these days, wait until you see the cast burning up the stage in one if the hottest musicals to hit Broadway. Opening night is Friday August 10th and the show runs through Saturday August 25th. Reserved seats for this comedy sponsored by The Farmington Rotary Club, are available now at farmingtonplayers.org or at the box office (248) 553-2955.

While Avenue Q draws inspiration from the format and characters of Sesame Street, this puppet program is not for kids. The characters occasionally spew profanity as they grapple with adult themes. There's even a frantic sex scene featuring puppet nudity. In fact, the production makes it clear the show is not connected to the Sesame Workshop or the Jim Henson Production Company, which have no responsibility for its content.

Farmington Players Present AVENUE Q, 8/10-25Instead, Avenue Q serves as a hilarious, thought-provoking satire of the popular children's TV show, poking fun at the contrasts between childhood and adulthood, fantasy versus reality. The puppet interaction with humans combined with a dose of Sesame Street-type animations, blends a blast of adult reality with the cheerfulness typically found in various children's programs.

That mix proved successful on Broadway, as the musical (Book by Jeff Whitty, Music & Lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx) won the Triple Crown at the 2004 Tony Awards-Best Musical, Book and Score.

The Farmington Players production, directed by Allison Boufford of Northville Township, follows Princeton (Gary LaKind of West Bloomfield) on a mission to find his purpose in life. Not sure what to do with his useless B.A. in English, he lands on Avenue Q, a street located in an "outer outer borough of New York City" and inhabited by lost souls. Boufford calls the show a "coming-of-age story that demonstrates the uncertainty felt when venturing off into the real-world."

Princeton begins a troubled romance with Kate Monster (Mary Malaney of Farmington Hills) a teacher's assistant, who dreams of opening a school for monsters.

Farmington Players Present AVENUE Q, 8/10-25Other puppet denizens of Avenue Q include, the Bert and Ernie type roommates Rod and Nicky (Bob Cox & Connor Rhoades both of Plymouth). Nicky feels Rod could be happy if he would just come out of the closet. There is also Trekkie Monster (Jim Snideman of Union Lake) a furry grump who's addicted to porn; the sultry nightclub singer Lucy The Slut (Lia Imbronone of Utica); and the Bad Idea Bears (Jason Wilhoite of Commerce Township & Paige Wisniewski of Houghton Lake) who pressure their peers to do stupid things.

Their three "human" neighbors include: Christmas Eve (Katie Evitts of Pinckney), a Japanese therapist who has trouble booking clients; her fiancé Brian (Joel Mapes of Livonia) a standup comic "wannabe"; and Gary Coleman (Keshia DaiSy Oliver of Canton) the former child star who's now a cynical building superintendent.

Music Director Sue Belleperche of Windsor artfully conducts the cast through several politically incorrect but insightful tunes that function as satirical nods to the sweet songs of Sesame Street. Some popular pieces include, "It sucks to be me," "There is life outside your apartment," "The internet is for porn," "Everyone's a little bit racist," "If you were gay," and "You can be as loud as the h-ll you want" (when you're makin' love). In that last number, Kate and Princeton leave little to the imagination.

Along their journey, the friends hit some of life's potholes in the form of tricky issues like commitment, love and sex. Avenue Q allows them to cope much the way characters do on Sesame Street, by serving up valuable advice about living in the real world, in a very upbeat, witty, and (in this case) adult way.

Boufford notes that one such lesson lies in show's final number informing us "everything in life is only for now." "As the saying goes, 'this too shall pass,'" says Boufford. "Bad days come and go, but relationships and appreciation for the love and beauty around us last a lifetime."

It takes a while for Princeton to learn that lesson, and in doing so, to discover there really is life outside your apartment. But first, you have to open the door. Tickets for Avenue Q are available now at farmingtonplayers.org or at the box office 248-553-2955.

SHOW DATES & TIMES: Friday August 10 8pm (Opening Night); Saturday August 11 8pm; Sunday August 12 2pm (Senior Sunday $2 Off); Thursday August 16 8 pm (Thrifty Thursday $2 Off); Friday August 17 8pm; Saturday August 18 8pm; Sunday August 19 2pm; ThursdayAugust 23 8pm (Thrifty Thursday $2 Off); Friday August 24 8pm; and Saturday August 25 8pm.

Tickets are available at both www.farmingtonplayers.org and the box office at 248-553-2955.

• Adults: $18

• Students: $2 off any performance

• Senior Sunday: August 12 2pm ($2 off)

• Thrifty Thursday: $2 off ONLY on August 16 and August 23

• Group Discounts: $2 off any show with a group of ten or more people.

The Farmington Players Barn is located at 32332 W. 12 Mile Road, Farmington Hills Michigan 48334. It's the big white barn on the north side of 12 mile between Orchard Lake and Farmington Rd.

CAST

Princeton - Gary LaKind, West Bloomfield
Kate Monster - Mary Malaney, Farmington Hills
Nicky - Connor Rhoades, Plymouth
Rod - Bob Cox, Plymouth
Brian - Joel Mapes, Livonia
Christmas Eve - Katie Evitts, Pinckney
Lucy The Slut - Lia Imbronone, Utica
Bad Idea Bear/Mrs. Thistletwat - Paige Wisniewski, Houghton Lake
Bad Idea Bear/Newcomer - Jason Wilhoite, Commerce Township
Gary Coleman - Keshia Daisy, Oliver Canton, Township
Trekkie Monster - Jim Snideman, Union Lake

CREW LEADERS

Director/Choreographer Allison Boufford, Northville Township
Asst. Director Alisha Gellin, West Bloomfield
Music Director Sue Belleperche, Windsor
Stage Manager Kelly Little, Ann Arbor
Producer John Boufford, Northville Township
Producer Barry Cutler, Ferndale
Light Design Keith Janoch, Farmington Hills
Light Design Allison Boufford, Northville Township
Sound Design Rachael Rose, Waterford Township
Set Design Phil Hadley, West Bloomfield
Set Design Allison Boufford, Northville Township
Set Dressing Maggie Gilkes, Farmington Hills
Set Construction Phil Hadley, West Bloomfield
Costumes Julie Vanderbeek, Ferndale
Props Sharon Soranno, Livonia

 The Barn began as an off-shoot of the American Association of University Women. Their first production, The Torchbearers, was performed at a local church. After performing in various city and educational locations, The Farmington Players moved into an old dairy barn located on the site of their present facility on West Twelve Mile Road.

Initially, productions were staged downstairs on a dirt floor. Over the years, improvements to the original Barn transformed it into a more finished space, with the theater itself eventually moving upstairs into a traditional and finished setting.

Since 1953, The Farmington Players have staged more than 190 different musicals, dramas, mysteries and comedies, all as a community theater with 100% volunteer membership.

People from Farmington, Farmington Hills and beyond have come to recognize the group as a true community resource. Since the completion of its state-of-the-art facility in 2003, The Farmington Players Barn Theater has expanded its mission, serving as the site for city-sponsored events such as youth theater camps in the summer, concerts with groups as varied as Blackthorn and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and as a meeting place for various groups.

The Farmington Players have been saving money over the years to enhance the onstage experience at The Barn. In November, 2009 they installed a new rigging system in the vast fly space. Show Directors are thrilled to finally have the ability to fly in flats and use drops to set scenes in a matter of seconds.

Photo credit: Wes Heath

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