In the words of Tammy Faye Baker-Messner “Everybody Loves Puppets!” Now I’m not sure how Tammy Faye would feel about Avenue Q but I agree with her everybody does love puppets! Austin Theatre Project has brought back this fantastic show from its 2013 season for which they won 2 best musical awards. The Show a parody of Sesame Street, is a “tour de farce” filled with all the ups and downs of early adulthood with a fantastic irreverent look. With songs like “Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist” and “The Internet is for Porn.” Let’s just say this is one puppet show that is just for adults!
The majority of the original 2013 cast has come back to this production and taken what was already a great show and expanded their characters. Isaac Arrieta as Princeton is incredible and has brought new life to the character that drives the show. Matthew Charles Burnet and Eric Meo as Nicky and Rod the adult version of Bert and Ernie are unstoppable. During the moments when Matthew Burnet as Rod is trying to defend his “Heterosexuality” are some of the funniest moments of the night. June Julian as Christmas Eve makes the most of every opportunity to show off her impressive gift for comedy and timing! R. Michael Clinkscales as the unemployed standup comedian Brian is terrific. His skills are vital to this show not only as an actor but as the shows backstage puppet master. Clinkscales as Brian is ridiculous fun he makes me want to go out and become and unemployed standup comedian so that I can be as much fun as him. Marett Hanes brings back Kate Monster with her wide eyed naivety and personality of every assistant kindergarten teacher in America. Hanes who was already a stand out in the original production has brought with her an additional two years of experience, skills, and talent and it shows in her work.
New to this Production are Laura Galt and Kate Clark. Galt is a hoot and a half as the female part of the “Bad Idea Bears.” While Clark puts the “T” in Lucy T. Slut! However both actresses show a major difference from the rest of the cast when it comes to puppeteering. However in their defense they don’t have the past production to work off of and from. There are moments when Clark gets really into her character and stops operating her puppets, and at time Galt tends to have a hard time keeping her puppets upright and facing the audience. These are thing that will come in a couple more performances as I saw the show on the second performance and ATP has a notoriously short rehearsal period.
However in spite of the minor weaknesses of the new cast members this show is a total laugh riot! Don’t miss this show you will regret it when all your friends are talking about this show! I give this show a solid 5 out of 5 stars! Avenue Q continues on at the Ground Floor Theatre through February 28, 2015. For more information and tickets log onto http://www.austintheatreproject.org/
P.S. A note about the venue, while we at Austin Entertainment Weekly fully support the Ground Floor Theatre it is a rough venue at the moment. I have spoken at length to the Artistic Director Lisa Schepps, who founded the venue earlier this year, and She assures me there is still much work to be done. Do not be turned off by it’s outward appearance. In the coming months there are a lot of changes to the complex as well as the venue itself.
DO! Arrive early not only for the best parking but also to get good seats. The house of this theatre is very wide with the stage is rather shallow. So the seats on the far ends of the house have incredibly poor views.