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Avenue Q | 04.30.10-05.02.10

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Avenue Q offers a fresh take on the subject of transitioning into adulthood and has some fun with its young characters while also sympathizing with their struggles to adjust.

New Yorkers have this to say to young hotshots who think they’re special. Hey kid: Even if you’re one in a million, there’s seven more just like you right here in the five boroughs.

 That would be the five boroughs of New York City, of course, population somewhat over 8 million. If you want to take the perspective of the New York metropolitan area you’re one of over 19 million and that’s why no one is interested in that Jungian analysis of Freud you wrote for your senior thesis or what a great guy your college buddies thought you were.

Ah yes it’s a cold hard world out there, especially if you spent the last four years at a private university devoted to making you feel important. This is the truth faced by the characters in Avenue Q, the puppet musical for adults which addresses the perennial subject of young people trying to make the transition to independent adulthood.  Avenue Q manages to offer a fresh take on the subject and has some fun with its young characters and their somewhat unreasonable expectations while also sympathizing with their struggles to adjust to a new phase of life.  The songs are great too.

Squarely at the center of the show is Princeton, who doesn’t understand why his newly-minted B.A. in English doesn’t make him the toast of the town or at least get him a job which pays enough to let him live in Manhattan. Then there’s Kate Monster, a kindergarten teaching assistant who believes she’s destined for bigger and better things, Christmas Eve, a therapist with two degrees but no clients, Brian the unfunny comedian, Nicky the slacker and Rod the Republican investment banker with a secret. 

Also living on Avenue Q (the name is shorthand for “somewhere in New York City other than a hip Manhattan neighborhood”) are Trekkie Monster (“the internet is for porn”), Lucy the Slut (I warned you this was a show for adults), Gary Coleman (the former child star of Diff’rent Strokes, now superintendent of Avenue Q), The Bad News Bears (Princeton and Kate’s inner devils) and Mrs. Thistletwat (what did I say about this show being for adults?).

Avenue Q cleaned up at the Tony Awards in 2004 winning Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, and Best Original Score (take that, Wicked!). If Tony didn’t smile on Avenue Q’s performers (although two cast members, John Tartaglia and Stephanie D’Abruzzo, were nominated) it may have been due to the unfamiliarity of the show’s format. Clearly visible actors manipulating muppet-like puppets is not something you see every day on a Broadway stage and the acting honors went to performers in more conventional shows.

The best way to get a taste of what Avenue Q is like is to watch the video clips available at www.avenueq.com/video.html. It’s not a show for everyone but for people of a certain sensibility it’s just about perfect. The press materials advise that Avenue Q is suitable for ages 13 and up so if you’re pondering whether or not to bring your kids ask yourself if you would be comfortable with them watching a show which includes the following songs:  “It Sucks to Be Me,” “If You Were Gay,” and “You Can Be As Loud as the Hell You Want (When You’re Makin’ Love).” They’ve probably heard worse on TV but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

The National Tour of Avenue Q will be at the Fox Theatre April 30 through May 2 with performances Friday and Saturday at 8 pm and Saturday and Sunday at 2 pm. Tickets (ranging from $25 to $62) are available from the Fox Theatre box office, all MetroTix outlets, online at www.metrotix.com or by phone at 314-534-1111. | Sarah Boslaugh

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