|The creative, collaborative cast of Avenue Q|
Okay, so first a disclaimer (after all, I’m a lawyer). Since I help with publicity and marketing for this show, this can’t really be an objective “review” in the traditional sense. But having seen Avenue Q on opening night at the Farmington Players barn theater, I wanted to give you my first impressions.
Avenue Q is a roller coaster ride of funny songs, silly jokes, and playful puppets. The comparisons to Sesame Street (despite all disclaimers to the contrary) are obvious. But what you might not expect from this show is that Avenue Q is a hard place to live, full of human frailty and life’s disappointments. It is a bit disillusioning when a wide-eyed Princeton (played by Gary LaKind) has his naïve bubble burst. And when Kate Monster (Mary Malaney) gets her little heart broken, I even shed a few tears.
This cynical world view – embodied by songs such as “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist” and “Schadenfreude” (pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others) – might make you a little uncomfortable. And if that doesn’t, the vigorous puppet sex certainly will! It was more than a little awkward watching this show with my 23 year-old daughter, especially during the song “You Can Be as Loud as the Hell You Want (When You're Makin' Love).”
But at its core, Avenue Q really is insightful, funny, and like its characters, has a Purpose. It is also a great showcase for some very talented young actors and vocalists. Jason Wilhoite and Paige Wisniewski practically steal the show as the Bad Idea Bears. Connor Rhoades’ mastery with puppets really brings his character Nicky to life. And Bob Cox’s voice, mannerisms and even his tufted haircut make him entirely convincing as Rod, Nicky’s roommate. Bob explains why it all comes together so well: “Nicky and Rod are a little similar to the way Connor and I act in real life, which could possibly be why our chemistry is good on stage. It also helps that Connor has turned Nicky into a character off stage as well. Lots of times I come into rehearsal, and instead of being greeted by Connor, I get a ‘Oh Hi Bob!’ from Nicky, along with a wonderful puppet hug.”
Avenue Q has a lot of heart. Go in with an open mind, check your political correctness at the door, and be prepared to laugh about things that might be in “bad taste” but still ring true. Avenue Q runs through Saturday August 25. Get your tickets (while they last) at www.farmingtonplayers.org or by calling the Farmington Players box office at 248-553-2955. Find us on Facebook under “Farmington Players.”