BWW Reviews: Laugh Out Loud with 3-D Theatricals' AVENUE Q
Talk about bullet-proof. The Tony Award-winning musical AVENUE Q is one of the funniest shows I’ve ever seen, and while leading man/puppet Princeton may spend the 2 hours and 15 minutes of show time searching for his purpose in life, 3-D Theatricals accomplishes its own purpose effortlessly. There’s no way you’ll leave the theatre without being entertained, a little bit shocked, and feeling better than when you came in.
There wouldn’t be an AVENUE Q without its inspiration, the educational children’s TV series, Sesame Street, home to a very famous group of muppets set in a happy, fictional neighborhood in New York City. Creators Robert Lopez, Jeff Marx and Jeff Whitty satirize everything about the wholesome show by adding an abundance of adult humor to the everyday comings and goings of the puppets, monsters, and humans that live way out on the Avenue. Full of bright, bouncy songs, and lyrics that make you do a double take, they prove you can get away with almost anything…as long as it’s said by a puppet.
Nothing is off limits in AVENUE Q. “It Sucks to be Me,” “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist,” “I’m Not Wearing Underwear Today,” and “You Can Be As Loud As the Hell You Want (When You’re Having Sex) are only a few of the songs that will make you laugh out loud. Want to gauge the success of the show? Listen to the many audience members singing the catchy tunes at intermission and after the show walking out to their cars and you’ll see just how much people go crazy over AVENUE Q. Of course there’s also puppet sex, inappropriate language, Internet porn, and partial puppet nudity, so it’s designated for mature audiences. You can bet teens will love it.
When recent college grad, Princeton (Louis Pardo), moves into the neighborhood he meets an unusual group of characters who help him discover his purpose in life. Among the residents are three humans: unemployed comedian Brian (C.J. Porter), his overbearing girlfriend Christmas Eve (Camille Chen), and child actor Gary Coleman (Angela Wildflower Polk), the building super. The appearance of Coleman as a character is a humorous comment on the fleeting reality of fame and fortune, and in a very human way, levels the playing field of acceptance for everyone who is just trying to get by.
Also part of the neighborhood are the unforgettable puppets: kindergarten teacher Kate Monster (Caitlin Humphreys) whose dream is to start a school for monsters so they don’t have to feel so alone, “odd couple” roommates Nicky (Nathan Danforth) and Rod (Pardo again, as an uptight Republican who doesn’t realize he’s gay), a loudmouth Internet porn-surfing monster named Trekkie (Danforth), and a hot tomato lounge singer named Lucy The Slut (Humphreys).
The actor/puppeteers are an amazingly talented group of individuals. Most play more than one role even voicing multiple puppets at the same time and doing it all while singing beautifully in character. Pardo creates two distinctly different personalities for Princeton and Rod, as does Humphreys playing sweet girl next door, Kate Monster and the lusty Lucy. It’s veteran muppeteer Danforth, however, who steals the show with his growling performance as Trekkie Monster, assisted in the puppeteering department by Teya Patt. It’s also quite ironic that Trekkie’s porn fixation is what ultimately ends up saving the day.
T.J. Dawson re-stages Ken Roberson’s original choreography (you haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen this puppet choreography) and together with C.J. Porter co-directs an infectious production that is every bit as enjoyable as its Broadway and off-Broadway predecessors. It also features a number of other original designs, including Christian Anderson’s puppets and Robert Lopez’s animations. David Lammoureux’s musical direction brings out all the joy in AVENUE Q’s singers, musicians, and songs.