BWW Review: AVENUE Q at Theatre In The Park At Johnson County Arts And Heritage Center

BWW Review: AVENUE Q at Theatre In The Park At Johnson County Arts And Heritage Center

Avenue Q at Theatre In The Park (TTIP) at their winter indoor venue. TTIP takes on the Tony Award winning show for best musical under the direction of Tiffany Schweigert, Music Director James Levy and Conductor Matt Fischer. Equipped with a talented cast of humans and puppets, and an over the top script, they belt out cheeky politically incorrect tunes and certainly hit the mark. Originally from the creative genius of Jeff Whitty, Jeff Marx and the now EGOT-winner Robert Lopez. This team defied all conventions and broke the mold of modern musical theatre, in part, thanks to these brave puppets, who paved the way.BWW Review: AVENUE Q at Theatre In The Park At Johnson County Arts And Heritage Center

Avenue Q tells the timeless story of a recent college graduate (Princeton) trying to find his way in the world. Looking for an apartment he can afford he ends up all the way out on Avenue Q. Princeton struggles to find a job, meet friends, and find his purpose. He finds love, loses it and along the way he does make friends and with their help...his purpose.

Avenue Q is extraordinary in the way that every single person in the audience, on any given evening, will relate to something on stage. Anyone familiar with "Sesame Street" will appreciate the obvious parodies, especially the short pieces of animation played on the screen above the stage. Gone are the cartoons about simple mathematical sums, however, as we find ourselves chuckling at videos about 'one night stands.' This adult oriented story of humans living in harmony (or disharmony) together on the same street joyously awakens the inner child. The musical themes remind us how adult we have become, and those memorable numbers about pornography, homosexuality, racism and that yearning we all undertake on a daily basis - finding your purpose in life. Chances are, within the many evolving story lines, you too, will leave the theatre having completely identified with another human... or a puppetBWW Review: AVENUE Q at Theatre In The Park At Johnson County Arts And Heritage Center

The talented ensemble of characters TTIP has the tough job of both performing a role live on stage while working the puppet magic that makes "Q" the street to live on. There were a few times in the larger production numbers that harmonies didn't quite mesh together (one of the tough things about this venue is having the live orchestra playing off stage), but the shining moments were the smaller solo and duet numbers. Austin Stang gave the character Princeton true heart and his vocal abilities fit well to his character's numbers. Victoria Strafuss, as Kate Monster, has a powerful belt yet brought charm and warmth to numbers like "Fine, Fine Line", Michael Golliher, as Nicky and Scott Salem, as Rod delivered fun antics reminiscent of (but not drawn from, wink) Bert and Ernie of Sesame Street fame. Trekkie Monster, played by Chad Burris, certainly hungered for more than cookies. The sultry Lucy (they use a word other than sultry in the show, but I can't use it here), played by Kristen Altoro brought down the house with her number "Special". Kate Narboneta and David Thomas as the engaged couple Christmas Eve & Brian provided some great human energy. And, Shawna Pena-Downing as Gary Coleman rocked the house with "Shadenfreude" early in act 2. Anne Haines and Katie Pugh tied the cast together with both ensemble roles, puppeteering, and a few supporting roles of their own. However, the darling Bad Idea Bears (Emily Vargo and Cameron Mabie) stole the show with their cutely adorable badness! BWW Review: AVENUE Q at Theatre In The Park At Johnson County Arts And Heritage Center

The design of the set, by Doug Schroeder, wrapped the stage nicely and in this venue made the audience feel as if they were sitting on the curb and eaves-dropping on all the action. There's so much to like about this production, and if you've not yet seen the show you'll want to see it now. If you've seen it before, you'll love this more intimate setting to relive the heartaches, laughs, and joys experienced on Avenue Q.

BWW Review: AVENUE Q at Theatre In The Park At Johnson County Arts And Heritage Center

Showing March 9 - 25, 2018 (with an R for risqué rating)

The Theatre at The John County Arts and Heritage Center

8788 Metcalf Ave., Overland Park, KS 66212

THEATREINTHEPARK.ORG

BWW Review: AVENUE Q at Theatre In The Park At Johnson County Arts And Heritage Center

Photos courtesy of TTIP

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From This Author Paul Bolton

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