BWW Review: AVENUE Q presented by Mind's Eye Theatre Company s at the MeX Theatre
Carrie Cooke Ketterman as Kate Monster in Avenue Q. Photo courtesy Mind's Eye Theatre Company.
by Jeff Marx, Robert Lopez, & Jeff Whitty
Directed by Janet Morris
Review by Taylor Clemons
Entire contents copyright © 2017 Taylor Clemons. All rights reserved.
Throughout the country it's no secret that Sesame Street is a staple for toddlers growing up. On those shows, kids are told that anything is possible and that there is always a chance at living and fulfilling your dreams, no matter what they are. Years later, most of us find out that while basically true, we were withheld some crucial details about growing up, coming of age and going into adulthood. Avenue Q centers around Princeton (Jake Minton), a fresh faced college graduate who has just earned his B.A. in English. As he leaves college life hits him hard, and he finds out just how difficult it is to pay your bills, keep a job, and have a healthy love life. He stumbles upon the cheapest apartment he can find in New York City, all the way down on, you guessed it, Avenue Q. he meets his new kooky new neighbors and the building's super, none other than child star Gary Coleman (Tymika Prince). He gets settled in, and finally realizes that he has no purpose. Throughout the course of the show, his sole mission is to find his one and only purpose in life.
Avenue Q opened on Broadway in the summer of 2003, after a successful run at Off Broadway's Vineyard Theatre. The show garnered fantastic reviews, and would go on to win the "Tonys Triple Crown" taking home awards for best book, score and musical (beating the mega hit that is Wicked). Avenue Q closed on Broadway in the summer of 2009 and would transfer back Off Broadway to New World Stages where it can still be seen running today. It has established itself as a staple in New York theatre, and is a popular title all around the world.
Performances for Mind's Eye's production were all spot on. It's really hard to single any few people out as highlights, because this musical is a true ensemble effort. Many actors seamlessly switch between their main roles, and others throughout the show, building that sense of community between the show's performers. Carrie Cooke Ketterman's Kate Monster is downright adorable. She's in fantastic voice, and handles this deceptively intricate score with ease. Jeff Mangum and Shelby Gray are doing justice to my personal favorite characters, The Bad Idea bears. Their blatant optimism is infectious, even through everything they're saying is, well, a bad idea. Tymika Price gets the belting award for the night. Equal parts sass and humor, her take on Gary Coleman is flawless. She particularly shines during "You Can Be as Loud as the Hell You Want (When You're Making Love)" and her duet with Nicky (a very funny Brian Morris who doubles as Trekkie Monster), "Schadenfreude". I could go on and on about the entire cast, as there will never be enough good things to say.
The set for this production is quite simple, but very effective. The exterior of an apartment building is the backdrop for the entire show, and Janet Morris' direction makes the small playing space of the MeX feel very large and spacious. Valerie Canon's choreography is basic, but also very effective. It's a nice touch and compliment to Morris' direction.
I highly recommend Mind's Eye's Avenue Q to comedy lovers, musical theater lovers, and puppet lovers alike. While it may surprise you, this show is 100% R-rated for language, content, and of course, brief puppet nudity. Don't bring your kids! Grab a ticket before they're gone, as the show only has an all too brief six performance run.
June 15 - 25, 2017
The MeX in The Kentucky Center for the Arts
501 W. Main Street
Louisville, KY 40202