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BWW Reviews: AVENUE Q is Part Flesh, Part Felt and Packed with Lots of Heart at the Morgan-Wixson Theatre

AVENUE Q, the zany, adult-themed spoof on Sesame Street, won the Tony "Triple Crown" for Best Musical, Best Score, and Best Book. Now onstage through April 6 at Santa Monica's Morgan-Wixson Theatre, the show is part flesh, part felt and packed with lots of heart. With 2,534 performances, Avenue Q ranks 23rd on the list of longest running shows in Broadway history, and this production does the show proud.

While not suitable for young children due to adult themes, language, and puppet nudity, AVENUE Q is a laugh-out-loud musical that tells the timeless story of a recent college grad named Princeton (Aric Martin) who moves into a shabby New York apartment all the way out on Avenue Q as it is the only place he can afford. There he meets Kate Monster (Rachel Hirshee), Rod the Republican (also Aric Martin), his roommate Nicky (Matthew Artson), Trekkie Monster the internet sexpert (also Matthew Artson), Christmas Eve (Kristina Reyes) and her boyfriend Brian (Keith E. Wright), building manager and former child star Gary Coleman (Celia M. Rivera), and local entertainer Lucy The Slut (also Rachel Hirshee). Rounding out the cast of characters are Anna Younghan (Mrs. Thistletwat, Kate's work supervisor), and Daniel Jared Hersh and Traci Zazarowitz (Supremely talented nsemble players who step in and play many of the characters).

The story revolves around Princeton and his neighbors trying to cope with the struggles of real life, learning that you cannot necessarily count on things turning out as you would like. With so many great songs performed brilliantly by the cast, it is difficult single out just a few for praise as each deserves to be recognized for its outstanding contribution to the show as a whole. Standouts include "Everyone's A Little Bit Racist" (with jokes that are uncouth but based on truth),"The Internet Is For Porn" (a big shout out to Matthew Artson as Trekkie Monster), "If You Were Gay" (that would be okay Nicky tells Rod), "Purpose" with the talking boxes, and the comical "There's A Fine, Fine Line" by the silver-voiced Rachel Hirshee as Kate.

Making his directorial debut at the Morgan-Wixson Theatre, director Kevin Noonchester most recently played the role of Marlin in Disney's "Finding Nemo: The Musical" and prior to that was in the Las Vegas company of "Avenue Q" where he performed the roles of Princeton/Rod & Nicky/Trekkie. Kevin is also a member of the Henson Company's "Puppet Up," the improv troupe responsible for Henson's "Stuffed & Unstrung." Needless to say, he knows the show well and his cast of nine multi-talented actors will charm audiences with their characters who are often clueless but never unlovable. The production also includes short videos that greatly enhance the show's adult humor.

The creative team includes Anne Gesling (Musical Director), Thomas A. Brown (Set Designer), William Wilday (Lighting Designer), and Kristy Pace (Producer). Kudos to all for this remarkable production! Don't wait to order your tickets as this show will sell out every performance once word gets out.

Music and Lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, Book by Jeff Whitty, Based on an Original Concept by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx

March 9 through April 6, 2013 on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 2 pm at the Morgan-Wixson Theatre, 2627 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90405 - Accessible by Big Blue Bus #7 and #8.

Reserved seats $25-30 online at or call the theatre box office at 310-828-7519.

Photos by Joel Castro

(left to right) Celia M. Rivera, Matthew Artson, Aric Martin, Anna Younghans, Keith E. Wright, Kristina Reyes

Aric Martin as Princeton

Rachel Hirshee as Lucy The Slut

Matthew Artson as Trekkie Oonster

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