A little gem of a theatre company known as the Austin Theatre Project performs near downtown Austin at the Doughtery Arts Center. Their current production of Avenue Q, a musical by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, is a new twist on the timeless tale of youth and their journey as they enter the real world of jobs, living on their own, making friends, and falling in love.
While that description sounds rather traditional, this production is not. Yes, it has the energy, the talent, the production values you expect, but it has so much more! Often referenced as the Adult Sesame Street because that is truly what inspired the style of this show.
First, there are the puppets. This may explain why some call it Sesame street the Adult Version. While you might expect puppets to be “distracting,” they are not! We were both delighted at how seamlessly they became an extension of the actor. The skill of the actors in manipulating them was just amazing and the characterizations so clearly and consistently defined. Plus they gave you lots of laughs, somethings are just funnier when a Puppet does it…. Like making love, when humans do it, it can be akward or uncomfortable for the audience, when puppets do it even the senior citizens (and there were more than 1 in this show geared to the 20/30 somethings) in the room had to laugh.
Princeton, played by Isaac Arrieta, arrives on Avenue Q in search of an affordable place to live as he begins his first job out of college. He no sooner rents an apartment than he is notified that the job he was to start on Monday has downsized him. As he struggles with how to cope with the change in circumstances, we are introduced to the denizens of his neighborhood. First, there is Gary Coleman, the building super with attitude to spare, ably played by Michelle Alexander. Another neighbor is Kate Monster. Kate is an assistant teacher who longs to teach her own class of little students. Kate also longs to meet an eligible young man. Add to this mix Brian, played by the talented R. Michael Clinkscales, who at 32 is going nowhere fast. His significant, played by June Julian, is Christmas Eve, a therapist whose patients never come back after their first session. (Could she possibly have cured them that quickly?) Other talented performers round out the cast: Matthew Burnett as Rod, Rachel Hoovler whose talent lends itself to crafting several characters, Ashley Laverty as Lucy T. Slut (need I say more), and Eric Meo as Nicky Trekkie Monster, whose grouchiness reminds one of another grouchy puppet. With that said, Trekkie Monster quickly distinguishes himself with his exhortations to the many-values of “Porn.” All the while the cast including the color puppets are singing hilarious songs like “If you were Gay” , “When you Ruv Someone the more you want to Keel Them” and our personal favorite, “Everyone’s a little bit racist”.
Filled with the nostalgia of the street where we all grew up (ok most of us), and loaded with the reality of adult life this comical approach to some of the more tedious and unpleasant parts of being an adult is a riotous laughfest. If you can’t relate to anything in this show you shouldn’t be an adult. We give this show 5 out of 5 Stars.
Directed by Marco Bazan with David Blackburn (Music Director) and Taylor Whitmire (Lighting Design) and Sam Kokajko (Sound Design) rounding out the production team.
Avenue Q plays at the DoughteryArtsCenter through June 16, 2013 with Friday and Saturday performances at 7:30 pm and Sunday performances at 3:00 pm.
Ticket prices are $25 for general admission, $30 for premium seating, and $20 for Seniors/Students. Group prices are also available for groups of 10 or more. For additional information, visit their web site at austintheatreproject.org.
One final note: According to their web site, no one under 16 admitted. You’ll understand once the puppets start cussing, humping and singing.