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BWW Flashback: Welcome to AVENUE Q - The Musical Comedy Marks Its 12th Anniversary

If ever a show has become part of the 'fabric' of New York and pop culture, it's the Tony Award-winning musical Avenue Q, with its colorful -- in costume and in language -- cast of humans and puppets. The ground-breaking musical hits a new landmark today, July 31, when it celebrates its 12th anniversary at New World Stages (340 W. 50 St.), where AVENUE Q has performed for the past six years, following its triumphant six-year run on Broadway. Below, BroadwayWorld takes you back through some of the show's best moments over the years!

AVENUE Q opened on July 31, 2003 at the John Golden Theatre, won three 2004 Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Score, and Best Book of a Musical, and gave 2,556 performances (including 22 previews). The original Broadway cast starred Jennifer Barnhart, Natalie Venetia Belcon, Stephanie D'Arbruzzo, Jodi Eichelberger, Jordan Gelber, Ann Harada, Peter Linz, Rick Lyon and John Tartaglia.

The current off-Broadway cast (pictured above) features: Elizabeth Ann Berg (Kate Monster, Lucy & others); Kerri Brackin (Mrs T., Bear & others; u/s Kate, Lucy); Grace Choi (Christmas Eve); Ben Durocher (Princeton/Rod); Jason Jacoby (Nicky, Trekkie Monster, Bear & others); Nick Kohn (Brian); Danielle K. Thomas (Gary Coleman); Katie Boren (Ensemble; u/s Mrs. T, Bear; u/s Kate Monster, Lucy; u/s Christmas Eve); Imari Hardon (Swing); Michael Liscio, Jr. (Swing; u/s Princeton, Rod; u/s Brian; u/s Nicky, Trekkie, Bear; Assistant Stage Manager); and Jed Resnick (Ensemble; u/s Princeton, Rod; u/s Nicky, Trekkie, Bear; u/s Brian).

AVENUE Q has music and lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, book by Jeff Whitty, and is directed by Jason Moore. Based on an original concept by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, with puppets conceived and designed by Rick Lyon, AVENUE Q has musical supervision by Stephen Oremus, choreography by Ken Roberson, scenic design by Anna Louizos, costume design by Mirena Rada, lighting design by Howell Binkley, and sound design by ACME Sound Partners. Musical director is Rick Bertone. Animation design is by Robert Lopez, incidental music is by Gary Adler, casting is by Cindy Tolan. Christine M. Daly is Production Stage Manager.

AVENUE Q is a laugh-out-loud musical that tells the timeless story of a recent college grad named Princeton who moves into a shabby New York apartment all the way out on Avenue Q. There, he meets Kate (the girl next door), Rod (the Republican), Trekkie (the internet sexpert), Lucy the Slut (need we say more?), and other colorful types who help Princeton finally discover his purpose in life!

BroadwayWorld was just getting up and running when AVENUE Q burst onto the scene in 2003, but we found photos of the original Broadway cast via Facebook - check out some vintage production shots below!

Kate Monster and Stephanie D'Abruzzo
Kate Monster (Stephanie D'Abruzzo) and Princeton (John Tartaglia)
Princeton (John Tartaglia) and Kate Monster (Stephanie D'Abruzzo)
Jordan Gelber, Natalie Venetia Belcon, Nicky, Rick Lyon (behind Nicky), Princeton, John Tartaglia,
Kate Monster, Jennifer Barnhart (behind Kate), Stephanie D'Abruzzo,
Rod (behind Stephanie D'Abruzzo) and Ann Harada

Plus watch clips of the Tony-winning Broadway company onstage!

Re-live the show with the full AVENUE Q Original Broadway Cast Recording below!

Sala Iwamatsu, Nicholas Kohn, Maggie Lakis, Anika Larsen, Seth Rettberg, Danielle K. Thomas and Cullen Titmus took the show to off-Broadway's New World Stages in October 2009. Scroll down to see them onstage (photos by Carol Rosegg)!

The cast of AVENUE Q off-Broadway
Kate Monster (Anika Larsen) and Princeton (Seth Rettberg)
Lucy (Anika Larsen)
Cullen R. Titmus (Nicky), Danielle K. Thomas, Nicholas Kohn and Sala Iwamatsu
Maggie Lakis and Cullen R. Titmus as Nicky
Maggie Lakis and Cullen R. Titmus as Nicky and Seth Rettberg as Rod
Princeton (Seth Rettberg) and Kate Monster (Anika Larsen)
Rod (Seth Rettberg) and Nicky (Maggie Lakis and Cullen R. Titmus)
Maggie Lakis and Cullen R. Titmus as Trekkie Monster

Fast forward! AVENUE Q celebrated same-sex marriage in the State of New York on July 24th, 2011, when two of the show's stars exchanged vows. In AVENUE Q, Rod, a Wall Street banker, and Ricky, a "Chelsea boy," met through an online personal ad placed by Rod's best friend and slacker roommate, Nicky. It was love at first sight. AVENUE Q's Kate Monster served as Flower Girl.

Kate Monster about to catch the bouquet.
Ricky and Rod get hitched!

The show marked its 10th anniversary in 2013, and many of the show's original stars reunited for the celebration.

Jordan Gelber, Carmen Ruby Floyd, Ann Harada, Stephanie D'Abruzzo,
John Tartaglia and Rick Lyon celebrating AVENUE Q's 10th anniversary.

And now the musical embarks on a 2015 UK tour! In 2006, AVENUE Q transferred to the West End via Cameron Mackintosh, where it ran for five years before touring the UK. The show has appeared in more than ten countries all over the world.

The 2015 UK Tour cast of AVENUE Q. Photo by Matt Martin.

Here's to 12 more years in New York and across the globe!

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