Left - Trekkie Monster and Luke Joslin. Cover - Mitchell Butel, Rod and Nicky
There’s sex on Sesame Street. Really? What would the kids think? Don’t take them. This is Sesame Street for big kids only and pornographic puppets are part of the fun.
Avenue Q is an enchanting and naughty musical romp through the ABCs of life. No one minds their Ps and Qs on this adults-only musical Muppet romp.
Puppets having sex is just not PC. Neither is Internet porn. However these and a many more non-PC things feature in this quirky exposé.
Avenue Q is the Tony-Award winning brainchild of Jeff Marx and Robert Lopez. Most of the characters in the shows are puppets operated by actors onstage. Clearly much of the humour is derived from the contrast between the child-like and innocent Sesame Street and Avenue Q’s outrageous adults-only parody. Nevertheless both are strong in their appeal to the child within. The naughtiness of Avenue Q is confronting and yet has a child-like direct and honest appeal.
Director Jonothan Biggins’ Adelaide’s production is based largely on the Broadway show.
Set Designer Richard Roberts has created realistic outer New York City tenements around which both the puppet and live characters sing and dance. Above the tenements is a Billboard on which animated video clips are played again bringing back memories of the short-clips that interspersed Sesame Street.
The musical numbers under the direction of David Skelton are fun, although the sound balance (Peter Grubb) is a bit out sometimes drowning out the singers. Nathan M Wright has fun with the choreography, which is sharp and adds to the humour.
Each one of the puppet and live cast of players is mesmerizing. Avenue Q pushes the boundaries in so many mischievous ways. Yet perhaps the most amazing of all is the fact that here is a musical that requires acting, singing, dancing and now puppetry skills.
Mitchell Butel exemplifies the skills required by this show in his dual roles as the down-and-out romantic lead Princeton and his parody of the neighbour Rod (aka Bert). He acts, sings and dances threading his way through the show interchanging characters and operating two puppets. Truly this is puppet poetry in motion.
Luke Joslin’s Trekkie Monster is a high spot of the night. Clearly Trekkie Monster is an outrageously funny adults-only version of Cookie Monster. Joslin manages to both parody and copy the mannerisms of the Muppet Monster in a manner that is hilarious. Many of the characters are obvious send-ups of the Sesame Street neighbourhood. Joslin also does an excellent job as Nicky (aka Ernie).
Natalie Alexopoulos is also outstanding swapping roles between the sweet Kate Monster and the alluring Lucy T. Slut. Her musical number “There is a Fine, Fine Line” is one of the highlights of the night.
Christina O’Neill and David James more than hold their own as Christmas Eve and Brian, the live characters surrounded by puppet neighbours. Cherine Peck faces the challenge of mimicking former child television star Gary Coleman with varying degrees of success.
Gus Murray and Josie Lane are fun as the Bad Idea Bears and in their additional roles as puppeteers.
Together cast and crew create a magical, irreverent world that pushes the envelope in a fresh and savvy manner. Musical lovers, puppet aficionados, theatregoers and those who don't often go to any form of theatre are all likely to find something that appeals in this show. If ever there was a musical that would appeal to all avenues of society this is one of them. Avenue Q strikes a chord at the heart of every naughty “child/adult”.
Adelaide audiences need to go where the air is sweet (and saucy) before the season ends.
Arts Asia Pacific & Power Arts in association with Adelaide Festival Centre present
music and lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx | book by Jeff Whitty
Directed by Jonathan Biggins
Venue: Her Majesty's Theatre | 58 Grote Street, Adelaide
Dates: 1 - 24 January 2010
Tickets: Adult from $49.90, onc from $44.90
Duration: 2 Hrs 15 Mins (interval 20 Mins)