“Avenue Q”. is a musical that stars a mix of puppets and live humans who all live on the same New York City street, Avenue Q. They sing, they dance, they teach lessons. There are even Sesame Street style video breaks that feature lessons in letters and numbers.
But “Sesame Street”, it’s not.
Circuit Playhouse is staging the regional premiere of the musical, which comes off as what would happen if Sesame Street grew up, moved out, and then completely lost hope (and decided to sing songs about it).
The Tony Award-winning show is about Princeton, a recent college graduate who, like so many before him, moves to the big city with more dreams than direction. Broke and unemployed, he takes an apartment on Avenue Q., where he joins a community of similarly disaffected friends.
There’s teaching assistant Kate Monster, Princeton’s love interest, who dreams of opening a school. There are two constantly quibbling roommates, a therapist with no clients, a failing comedian, a lovably perverted fuzzy monster and Gary Coleman, the landlord.
Throughout their trials and tribulations, the residents of “Avenue Q” sing songs. The show takes traditional, chipper Broadway musical-style songs and twists them into bawdy, adults only anthems like “The Internet is for Porn”, “Schadenfreude” and “You Can Be As Loud As the Hell You Want (When You’re Making Love)”.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from a puppet cast when I went to Circuit Playhouse on Sunday. The puppets were carried around the stage and voiced by actors dressed in beige. At first, it’s a little awkward to figure out who you’re supposed to be watching, but after a few songs, the puppets become the easy focus. Several actors voice more than one puppet, but Circuit’s cast executes this so well that it’s barely noticeable.
The plot, like the main characters, rambles a bit before it finds it’s main purpose, but it’s funny the entire way through. If you’ve ever been aimless, jobless or confused about what your life’s purpose is, you’ll identify with the show (sidenote – I took a friend who’s getting her MFA in poetry, and she cracked up and nodded knowingly all through the song “What Do You Do With a BA in English”).
“Avenue Q” will be at Circuit Playhouse until Oct. 30th. The show is definitely rated R (for language, content and some fairly graphic puppet sex), so leave the kids at home – it’s not likely that they’d get most of the jokes anyway.
Through Oct. 30, 2011
Tickets: $22 – $38