AVENUE Q Pays Tribute to Coleman; Plans to Keep 'Gary' Character with Changes

In light of the death Friday, May 28 of actor Gary Coleman, AVENUE Q's Danielle K. Thomas, who portrays Mr. Coleman in the musical, paid tribute to him from the stage, post-show. However, Thomas revealed feelings of anxiousness to perform: "I was terrified, it was the worst. I had a knot in my throat, I was so nervous."

Here's her post-show tribute - "We here at Avenue Q would like take a moment to honor the memory and life and career of Gary Coleman and I just want to say that it has never sucked to be Gary Coleman. I feel honored to be part of this wonderful show and I have been honored playing this role for over two years. Here on the Avenue, yes, we make jokes and we make fun of people, their lives and their circumstances but we also have a lot of heart and this Gary Coleman on this Avenue has had so much heart and knowledge and positivity and let's face it - I'm funny.

But, I've had such a ball and learned so much being Gary Coleman so we recognize how amazing he was and I intend to continue his legacy by being the very best Gary Coleman that I can and we will continue to light up the stage and light up audiences by doing what he loved to do.

So, from Avenue Q, we say thank you Gary Coleman and goodbye -- but only for now. "

Co-Creator Jeff Marx has spoken to Entertainment Weekly about the loss of the actor, as well as future changes they would instill in the script - in which Gary Coleman is depicted as one of the show's characters.

"It's a very sad day for all of us," Marx says. "And we're really sorry to hear this. We all were inspired by him for many, many years."

Marx added, "We all grew up watching and enjoying his work, and it's just very sad to hear."

Marx told EW that the show decided to alter some of the lines in the script, since they seem "inappropriate" now, but the show will go on.

"We all grew up watching and enjoying his work, and it's just very sad to hear."

On Friday (the day of Coleman's death), AVENUE Q representatives issued the following statement:

"The creators, producers, and company of 'Avenue Q' are terribly saddened to hear of the death of Gary Coleman, whose tremendous gifts brought delight and inspiration to audiences around the world. While everything in life may be only for now, we suspect that Gary's legacy will live on for many years to come. Gary's memory will certainly endure in the hearts and minds of those of us who live on 'Avenue Q.'"

According to the New York Times, the show's creative team has made the decision to keep 'Gary' on AVENUE Q. Instead of completely eliminating him, small tweaks will be made throughout the musical. For example, Gary now refers to himself as a 'child star' rather than a 'former child star'.

"We probably cut 20 words out of 1 million from the show tonight," writer Jeff Whitty said after the May 28th performance.

New World Stages is located at 340 W. 50 St. in Manhattan.

AVENUE Q -- a musical about 20-somethings who move to NY with big dreams and tiny bank accounts -- will soon enter its 7th straight year of its run in NYC.

Gary Coleman, most famous for his portrayal of Arnold Jackson on the sitcom Diff'rent Strokes, died of a brain hemorrhage today at the Utah Valley Regional Medical Center near his home in Utah. After suffering a head injury at his home on Wednesday, May 26, he was placed on life support, however, his condition deteriorated rapidly.

John Alcantar, a rep. for the Utah Valley Regional Medical Center said yesterday: "We are saddened to announce that since mid-afternoon, Mountain Time, on May 27, 2010, Mr. Coleman has been unconscious and on life support...At this critical moment, we can only ask for your thoughts and prayers for Gary to make a speedy and full recovery."

This hemorrhage is the second major medical battle Coleman suffered this year. In February he had a seizure on the set of The Insider. Dr. Drew Pinsky, who was with Coleman at the time, assisted him until paramedics arrived.

After Diff'rent Strokes, Coleman became a popular figure, starring in a number of feature films and made-for-TV movies including On the Right Track and The Kid with the Broken Halo. The latter eventually served as the basis for the Hanna-Barbera-produced animated series The Gary Coleman Show in 1982.

Coleman is best known in the theater world for being parodied in the hit 2003 Broadway musical Avenue Q, which won the 2004 Tony Award for best musical. A character presented as Coleman works as the superintendent of the apartment complex where the musical takes place. In the song, "It Sucks to be Me", he laments his fate. On Broadway, the role was originally played by Natalie Venetia Belcon.


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From This Author Caroline Cole