*Avenue Q,* 11/6/17
I saw *Avenue Q* at New Worlds Stages on 11/6/17. I had this show on my list for years and years - - it opened on Broadway in 2003, closed on Broadway in 2009, moved uptown to New Worlds Stages (and a much smaller theater) a few weeks later, and is still running there. It's constantly on the discount tickets site that I use, and I finally decided to see it. Everyone I know who has seen the show has raved about it.
I really enjoyed it. It's a riff on *Sesame Street* and *The Muppet Show,* uses faux Muppets, and puts them in an adult context. Ahem. One scene features some very vigorous puppet intercourse.
The music and lyrics are by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx. Lopez went on to do *The Book of Mormon,* and this show felt like a warm-up for that show. They both have a classic Broadway musical format: at the first act curtain everything is screwed up and you can't imagine how things could possibly be resolved, and (spoiler alert) by the time the show ends, everyone is happy with a deeper understanding of the other characters and themselves.
Both shows are offensive and adorable. A few of the songs in *Avenue Q* sound like songs in *The Book of Mormon.* Both shows won the Tony for Best Musical. FYI Lopez's next show is *Frozen,* with songs by him and his wife, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, based on the Disney movie. The first performances are in February with a projected opening night in March, and I imagine people are already expecting it to win Best Musical. We shall see!
The reality presented in *Avenue Q* is interesting. There are three human characters and many puppet characters, played by performers onstage. The puppet performers are fully visible, and I often found myself watching the puppeteer rather than the puppet. Sometimes a puppeteer voiced a puppet across the stage, who was being handled by another performer. It sounds complicated, but it worked smoothly, I was never confused or lost.
The best performance was by Ben Durocher, playing two puppet characters, he was fantastic. He's sort of funny looking, but cute - - I believe the term is "adorkable." He's a perfect leading man where the actual character is a puppet. Grace Choi played one of the human parts, a bossy but warm-hearted Asian-American woman. A scream, and a major set of pipes. The one slight clunker in the cast was Nick Kohn in one of the human roles, the fiancé of the Asian-American woman. He was just fine, but gave me the impression that he was phoning it in. I have no idea how performers do the same show, over and over, eight shows a week, for years and years - - but hey, it's your job, there are thousands of other performers who are waiting tables or working at Home Depot and want your job, you should make a little more of an effort. Was that too harsh?