Left – (l-r) Ian Buxton, Tegan Gully and Kim Clark. Cover – Amy Hutchinson and David Salter
“A” is for “Avenue” and the “Arts” theatre. “Q” is for “Quirky”. Avenue Q is the oddball musical with puppets.
It is “wicked” in a way that more conventional musicals are not and has developed a cult following as a result.
Matt Byrne Media presents a refreshing and well-crafted rendition of this adults-only puppet parody. Mischievous it may be, but part of the appeal is its wayward honesty.
Avenue Q is not for children, but it speaks for the child in every adult. Thoughts usually constrained find an avenue for expression through the mouths of appealing puppets. It is no wonder that this satirical show has won Tony Awards.
Director Matt Byrne has wisely invested in quality stars – puppets and actors. The Sesame-Street look-alike puppets are crafted by local Sue Dosset. The cast are all luminary – singing, dancing, acting and excelling in puppetry under the guidance of choreographer Rebecca Payne (and puppeteer Sue Harris).
Byrne’s stellar line up is led by Amy Hutchinson as Kate Monster, and David Salter as Princeton. Hutchinson and Salter develop an instant rapport with their puppets and each other. The result is pure magic with songs such as Mix Tape taking on added poignancy. Hutchinson’s There’s a Fine, Fine Line is one of the highlights of a show with many highlights.
Bert and Ernie look-alikes are a hoot with Dirk Strachan camping it up as Rod (Bert), and Michael Williams bringing to life Nicky (Ernie). Williams and Stephen Tulip are to be commended on their tandem puppetry – no mean feat!
Rohan Watts is comical as the loud (brash) Brian and Megan Humphries is suitably shrill and side-splitting as Christmas Eve.
The Bad idea bears – Michael Bates and Amy Klar – are an added delight, and Alisa James pulls of the unenviable task of imitating Gary Coleman, actor or puppet?
Kim Clark is monstrously funny as the delightfully dirty Trekkie Monster; Tegan Gully is deliciously sultry as Lucy T Slut and Karen Muller suitably schoolmarmish as Mrs Thistletwat.
Both music and lyrics star in this show, with the witty and wicked lyrics arguably having a slight edge. Either way each song takes on a life of its own, under the musical direction of Peter Johns.
The result is that all of the magic of both the lyrics and score is maximized. Numbers such as Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist, The Internet is for Porn and The More You Ruv Someone are show stoppers.
This is one show in which local producer Byrne has minded his “ps” and “qs” and not placed himself on stage. Ironically Byrne’s name seems to be in the forefront of the chatter of most auditorium conversations as having taken a risk on a high-risk production and won!
This show is likely to appeal to those who know and love the “Avenue” and those who have never ventured down it before. Just don’t take the kids!
PS: “S” is for Shedley – the Shedley Theatre at Elizabeth where the show travels next.
Matt Byrne Media presents
Music & Lyrics – Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx | Book – Jeff Whitty
Director Matt Byrne
Arts Theatre, Angas Street, City July 6-9 and 12-16
Shedley Theatre, Elizabeth 21-23 & 28-30
Arts Theatre July 8-9 & July 12-16, 2011 @ 8 pm. July 9 & 16 @ 2 pm
Shedley Theatre July 21-23 & 28-30 @ 8 pm July 23 & 30 @ 2 pm
Duration: 120 minutes approx
Tickets: $30 Adults, $25 Concession