Tuesday, April 14, 2009

My purpose? Not to write theater reviews. Thats for sure.

MY PURPOSE!--- A review on Avenue Q by Gillian Frederick. 

Everyone grew up either watching the ‘Muppet Show’, ‘Sesame Street’, ‘Lamb Chop’, ‘H.R. Puff ‘n’ stuff’ or something along those lines. What these shows all have in common is that they are aimed towards teaching kids life

itlessons and, they all had puppets. Following in their childhood hero’s footsteps, Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx set out at the herculean task of taking puppets from children and teaching young and old adults alike life lessons for real life. We already know not to talk to strangers, always wash your hands and fruits and vegetables are good for you. Avenue Q teaches the grown up versions of that with songs like “Everyone's a Little Bit Racist”, "There's a Fine, Fine Line", and one of my favorites; "What Do You Do with a B.A. in English?".


Avenue Q is a heartwarming, knee slapping, musical which is far from family friendly. Originally written to be a TV show, it was seen as a better fit for a Broadway play. It first hit stages in the spring of 2003 and although you can still see it in 3 countries as a play, they are developing it as a film so that no matter what country you live in you can watch it.


t starts with Princeton, a recent collage graduate, is trying to find a place to live in New York with a small budget and his purpose. The only place he can find that is within his price range is an apartment on Avenue Q, one of the more ‘characterized’ blocks in New York. He then meets his neighbors including Kate Monster, Nicky and Rod, Brian, his fiancĂ© Christmas Eve, and Gary Coleman, the most pathetic of the bunch. Later on Princeton meets the bad idea bears, Trekkie Monster, Lucy the Slut, and Ricky. It opens with the song “It Sucks to be Me”, in which everyone complains that they have the worse life. It moves on as Princeton seemly finds his way and starts to fall in love with Kate Monster. Then Princeton meets the bad idea bears, and they persuade him and Kate to drink absinth daiquiris until Kate is so intoxicated that they end up having ‘relations’ on their first night out.  Things start to go on a downhill for Princeton when Kate starts to hint at marriage and he runs off to Lucy the Slut after my personal favorite song, “There is Life Outside Your Apartment”. Things pick up again near the end, but I won’t give anything away.  You will have to go see it to find out if Princeton ever finds his “Purpose”.


The play was written by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, and they have since won multiple Tony awards for the play. They wrote it together after they had both graduated college with English Degrees and found out how tough it was to try and support themselves without the aid of their parents. In the first version I saw of Avenue Q back in 2005 in New York, there was a lot of George W. Bush bashing. When I most recently saw it in London, that entire banter was cut out because he was not in power any more.



What sets this play apart from most other musicals is the use of puppets and voice actors instead of just actors. It is blatantly obvious that the puppets are puppets and peoples arms are sticking out of them and their mouths are moving , saying the puppets lines. This helps relay the message that this play is not meant to be taken as seriously as some might think. Yes it has life lessons in it, but they certainly are not telling you that it is good to be homeless, or be happy that someone is dead, or even have sex with a slut! It is meant to be a light hearted comedy-musical. There is also a difference with the stage, it is for the most part naturally lit unless someone is in a spotlight or a dream/nightmare sequence is happening. The stage transforms without much effort into a hospital, 4 different apartments, the empire state building, a wedding, and a school for monsters without any struggle from the cast. Some musicals have long interludes so that sets can change to make the musical more believable, but Avenue Q’s interludes are never more than 45 seconds. Two large plasma screens come down and interact with the audience as well as the entire cast begging for money at one point making you feel as though you are contributing towards that show being a success.



This play is certainly one of a kind and although my words do not do it justice. From Andrew Gans review for ‘Playbill’ the magazine, “From the melodic, toe-tapping tunes and the witty, hilarious, and often moving lyrics to the wonderfully talented cast, Avenue Q could not be better.”



Outside Sources:

Avenue Q Review by Andrew Ganz-http://www.playbill.com/news/article/80974.html

Avenue Q London Playbill

It was so bad that I'm not going to bother attempting to be witty or charming or anything. In fact, I need to go clean my kitchen. If you go to Avenue Q's website, there are much, MUCH, better reviews.