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Avenue Q to Evict Gary Coleman for London Production

The character of Gary Coleman will be nowhere in sight after Avenue Q leaps across the pond to its upcoming West End opening--dates, a theatre and casting will be announced soon.

Tony Award-winning bookwriter Jeff Whitty and collaborators
Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx (who also won a Tony for their score) "are doing a bit of reworking for its opening in London, under the aegis of Cameron Mackintosh," according to a Variety article by Lisa D. Horowitz. 'We're not moving the setting. That wouldn't make sense,' Whitty says. However, they do have to find a British equivalent for Gary Coleman, a key character. 'We've all come to an agreement that it will be a character who exists more in the world of the show, who has the same arc as our famous Gary Coleman. And it's going to be played by a man this time.'" The role of the ex-child star landlord was originated by Natalie Venetia Belcon in the Broadway musical.

Avenue Q continues to be a hit at Broadway's John Golden Theatre (where it recently reached 1,000 performances); a Las Vegas production is also currently playing the Wynn Las Vegas' Broadway Theatre, which was built to house the show.

As for rumors of a film version, Whitty states that a movie is not impossible but that a TV adaptation is more likely. "Before I got onboard, Bobby and Jeff were writing a TV pilot. I still think there's something in that. We'd hide the puppeteers for TV. But we've got this stable of characters we've created. And I have 200 pages of cut scenes from 'Avenue Q' that we can ride on for the first half-season." Whitty's new play The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler recently opened at the South Coast Rep in California.

Avenue Q, which opened on Broadway on July 31st 2003, blends puppets and people in a sweetly R-rated tale of love, sex, friendship and the search for purpose. The show currently stars Barrett Foa, Mary Faber, Christian Anderson and original stars Ann Harada, Jordan Gelber, Natalie Venetia Belcon and Jennifer Barnhart. John Tartaglia, who originated the roles of Princeton and Rod on Broadway, recently headlined the current Las Vegas production.

For more information, visit www.avenueq.com.

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