AVENUE Q to Kick Off 1/9 at Stage West

"Sunny Day
Sweepin' the clouds away
On my way to where the air is sweet"

Oh, hang on, that would be Sesame Street. This is Avenue Q, a very different neighborhood, no less fun, but not for children! Stage West is importing the long-running Theatre 3 production of this mega-hit from Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx (Music & Lyrics) and Jeff Whitty (Book), featuring a brand-new set, for a 6-week run at Stage West beginning Thursday, January 9.

Ever ponder what would have happened to the Muppets after they grew up and went to college-or not? Began a career-or not? Wondered if they were gay-or not? This show just might provide the answers. It focuses on Princeton, a recent college grad with a fairly useless degree in English, who finds himself living in a boarding house waaaaaay out on Avenue Q. There he meets landlord Gary Coleman (yes, that one), along with sweet teaching assistant Kate, best buds Rod and Nicky, internet junkie Trekkie Monster, and engaged couple Brian and Christmas Eve (who are human characters, along with Gary Coleman). All are working their way through various issues and searching for their ever-elusive purpose in life. Similarly to Sesame Street, the show deals with these things musically-but with a lot more irreverence and a bit of raunch. This winner of the Tony triple crown (Best Musical, Best Score, Best Book) is a real crowd-pleaser, but it's for the adults!

Robert Lopez's first two Broadway musicals, Avenue Q and The Book of Mormon, have both been critical and commercial smash hits; he shared Tony Awards for Best Original Score and Best Book for The Book of Mormon, and shared the Tony for Best Original Score and a Grammy nomination for Avenue Q (which he co-wrote and conceived). With wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez, he co-wrote Finding Nemo: The Musical, the Broadway-bound musical Up Here, and songs for Winnie the Pooh (Disney feature 2011). He shared two Emmy Awards for his music for The Wonder Pets and an Emmy nomination for the musical episode of Scrubs.

Jeff Marx also made his Broadway debut with Avenue Q. He and Mr. Lopez began writing it in the BMI Workshop in 1999, thinking it was a great idea for a TV series. Three years later, it was produced Off-Broadway, Broadway, Las Vegas, and London. They are currently writing the screenplay and songs for a new movie-musical for Universal Pictures, as well as writing a new Broadway musical with Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the creators of South Park. Their other works include a new Muppet movie called Kermit, Prince of Denmark and Ferdinand the Bull, a children's musical for TheatreWorks/USA.

Jeff Whitty won the 2004 Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical for Avenue Q, which ran six years on Broadway and then moved to its current home off Broadway at New World Stages. In 2011, his new musical Bring It On premiered at the ALLIANCE THEATRE in Atlanta. Mr. Whitty's plays include The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler, The Hiding Place, the Plank Project, Balls, and Suicide Weather. Theatres mounting his work include the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Atlantic Theater Company, South Coast Rep, Vineyard Theatre, and The New Group, as well as the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center.

Avenue Q is directed by Michael Serrecchia, and features the original cast from Theatre 3. Matt Purvis appears as Princeton, and also as the (possibly) closeted Rod. Megan Kelly Bates plays Kate Monster, and also Lucy, a/k/a Lucy The Slut. Rod's best friend and roomie Nicky is handled by James Chandler. Michael Robinson, who designed costumes and co-designed and built the puppets, also appears as Trekkie Monster. Human engaged couple Brian and Christmas Eve are played by Chester Maple and Olivia de Guzman Emile, while well-known area vocalist M. Denise Lee plays Gary Coleman. All were critically acclaimed for their work in the Theatre 3 production.

Stage West's set will be designed by Jason Domm. Costume design will be handled by Michael Robinson, with puppet design and construction by Dallas Puppet Theater (Pix Smith and Michael Robinson). Lighting and Sound design are by Scott Guenther, with Stage West's Resident Lighting Designer Michael O'Brien serving as Master Electrician.

Avenue Q will preview Thursday, January 9 at 7:30 and Friday, January 10 at 8:00, and will run through Saturday, February 15. Note: the final week schedule will be different, due to Stage West's Acting with the Stars and a cast conflict. That week, performances will be Wednesday at 7:30, Thursday at 7:30, and Saturday at 3:00 and 8:00. Regular performance times will be Thursday evenings at 7:30, Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:00, with Sunday matinees at 3:00. The opening night reception will be Saturday, January 11. Ticket prices are $35, with discounts for the preview performance, and for students, seniors, and military. Food service is available 90 minutes prior to performances (reservations are necessary), and the Friday Prix Fixe special (dinner and show for $45) will be available beginning January 17. Reservations and information are available through the Box Office (817-784-9378), or on the website, www.stagewest.org.

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