Music and Lyrics: Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx
Book: Jeff Whitty
Director &Choreographer: Cressida Carré,
Reviewer: Taylor Simmons
We all watched programmes like Sesame Street and Fraggle Rock as a child. Being allowed to escape into these worlds, where ‘fantasies come true’ and ‘everybody has a purpose’, was what allowed us as children to believe that anything was possible.
Drawing heavily on the premise of these shows, Avenue Q is a coming-of-age musical which addresses the fears and issues of entering adulthood. The story follows Princeton (Tom Steedon), a new graduate, as he tackles the issues of living alone in a poor neighbourhood, being unemployed and finding one’s purpose in life.
Having seen the show numerous times, in the West-End, on Tour and recently on the amateur circuit, it is difficult to know what else can be done to the production that hasn’t already been seen. Sell A Door’s Director and Choreographer Cressida Carré certainly highlights the many risqué issues in the show through intensifying the puppets and the puppeteers’ physicality. Stephen Arden (Trekkie/ Nicky) and Jessica Parker (Trekkie/Nicky Puppeteer) were particularly exceptional in their use of body language and facial expression in supporting the characters they were puppeteering. The puppet choreography in ‘You Can Be As Loud As The Hell You Want’ performed by Princeton and Kate Monster (Lucie-Mae Sumner) was a particular highlight serving as a multifaceted sexual education to its audience.
All seven performers were clearly talented and suited to their rôles but it was Jacqueline Tate that was particularly memorable in her portrayal of Christmas Eve. Her voice was strong and her characterisation was well-rounded – a difficult feat in a satirical musical with puppets.
Unfortunately, the production seemed to suffer from ‘mid-tour syndrome’. It was clear that the production had had a quick ‘get in’ to the theatre and, as such, the sound balance was not right. The orchestra seemed to overpower the singing and therefore the actors needed to work much harder to get their message across. Sadly, the energy seemed missing from the stage and as such the production felt a little flat amid a half empty auditorium.
In spite of this, Avenue Q is still a ‘guaranteed-belly-laugh’ production and a worthwhile trip to the theatre. I dare you to not laugh out loud. Warning – not for the easily offended…
Photo: Darren Bell | Runs until 23rd July