Review: Avenue Q
[by David Wallace]
On the cover of the playbill for Avenue Q: The Musical, music and lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, is a warning in the ever present rectangular box: Rated Mature (with) explicit lyrics, adult themes, (and) puppet nudity. This is the first indication that Avenue Q is about a million miles from Sesame Street. In fact, it is Sesame Street with an attitude.
The songs are irreverent (It Sucks to Be Me); politically incorrect (Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist); obscene (The Internet is for Porn); In-your-face (You Can Be as Loud as the Hell You Want); rueful (What Do You Do With a B.A. in English?) and poignant (There’s a Fine, Fine Line) and all of them are riveting.
When the play began, I was torn between watching the actors or their puppets. By the end I was watching both blend together in seamless fashion to portray their skewed version of life.
In a real way Avenue Q is Sesame Street’s evil twin personified (puppetfied?) by Trekkie Monster, a combination of Cookie Monster and Oscar the Grouch. All of the humans interact with their puppets in spectacular fashion and Brian (Jason Cooper), Christmas Eve (Jennifer Poliske) and Gary Coleman (Tymika Prince), all “puppetless,” provide needed transitions to keep the story rolling.
This is an audacious presentation, which provides welcome relief from the Big Birds and Barneys of the world. Avenue Q is the last offering of the season, but the next one is just around the corner and includes Legally Blonde: The Musical; A New Brain; Les Miserables; Best little Whorehouse in Texas; Wit; The Color Purple and The Sound of Music.