BWW Reviews: Phenomenal Cast in Lower Ossington Theatre's AVENUE Q
The musical with music and lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx and a book by Jeff Whitty, AVENUE Q, follows Princeton on his journey to find his "purpose." When Princeton finds himself on Avenue Q, he meets a set of interesting people who change his life around.
On Avenue Q resides the colourful characters of kindergarten teacher assistant Kate Monster, home body and porn addict Trekkie Monster, business man Rod and his roommate Nicky, landlord Gary Coleman, and couple Christmas Eve and Brian. Together, these vibrant characters help Princeton find his purpose.
These characters are channeled by the cast in a way that is nothing short of phenomenal. The castchannels the quirky characteristics of these puppet characters perfectly. Between their voices, mannerisms, and way of maneuvering their puppet characters, the cast is on top of its game.
This is plain to see in the June 29 performance of the musical where usual Trekkie Monster actor Adam Norrad as absent, causing the usual Princeton/Rod Stephen Amon to take on the role of furry monster and understudy Graham Scott Fleming to take the stage as Princeton and Rod. Any good actor is able to dive into any character, and these men do just that. No one would know that these actors don't portray these characters on a daily basis in the way that the channel their roles and deliver convincing performances.
Princeton and Rod are the characters who are more emotional then hilarious. Princeton strives to find his purpose, while secondary character Rod struggles with his true identity. Fleming portrays them in a stellar way, making the audience invested in their futures. He takes on both characters, making the audience smitten with his sweetness and convincing performance. His delivery is impeccable, and he sings beautifully, and with a heartwarming honestly.
Stephen Amon's voice does what many would find impossible when channeling Trekkie Monster. He deepens his voice and becomes Trekkie Monster, the always horny monster who never leaves his home. As Trekkie, Amon provides the most comedy of all characters with his outrageous comments and hysterically offensive numbers like "The Internet is for Porn." One would never guess he normally graces the stage as the young and confused Princeton and internally struggling Rod.
Truthfully there is no weak link in the cast as everyone's voices soar, and all have impeccable comedic timing. Phil Skala who some may recognize as Angel from Rent is animated and keeps audiences laughing with his over the top facial expression and line delivery. Amelia Hironaka portrays Christmas Eve to a tee and delivers her lines hysterically.Natasha Strilchuk portrays Gary Colman with the perfect amount of sass and soul. Mark Willet channels the perfect balance between kind and dopey as Brian. Everyone was perfectly casted, and owned their role.
That being said, the show's biggest voice and most jaw dropping performance has to go to Jaqueline Martin. Martin, who played Joanna in the theatres production of Rent, is at her best as Kate Monster and Lucy. Her ability to convey Kate's sweetness and ambition then switch to transition into Lucy's sex appeal and charisma is jaw dropping. Both characters are so different with contrasting personalities and sounds, but Martin shines in both roles. Her power house voice brings the house down, and the emotion and mood she communicates through her performance as both characters makes her a scene stealer and phenomenal talent. Her large voice fills the small theatre, earning a loud applause after each and every one of her numbers.