|Puppet Love: Kate Monster (Mary Malaney) and Princeton (Gary LaKind)|
Avenue Q is definitely not for kids. But even though most of the characters and cast members are in their twenties, the Internet Generation are not the only ones who can relate to these promiscuous puppets. In fact, Avenue Q may resonate even more closely with Baby Boomers who grew up with Muppets. So says Gary LaKind of West Bloomfield, who plays the role of Princeton in the Farmington Players’ production. Princeton is a recent college graduate and a new resident to Avenue Q who is looking for his purpose in life. Gary wanted to be in Avenue Q because “I love the show and I feel like the show truly speaks to someone who is my age. I grew up in the early 1970's, so I watched Sesame Street during its infancy. I literally grew with Sesame Street. I can also remember the excitement of watching The Muppet Show when it debuted on network television and seeing The Muppet Movie in the theater. The lyricist (Jeff Marx) and I are the same age, so we clearly have the same generational sensibilities. We also attended the University of Michigan at the same time, so songs like ‘I wish I could go back to college’ really resonate.”
When playing Princeton, Gary tries to focus on “Princeton's innocence. I try to imbue Princeton with a simple, ‘aw shucks’ quality that really highlights the contradiction between a puppet and the adult nature of his words and actions. The best part of Princeton though, is being able to sing so many amazing songs.” Gary is no stranger to musical theater, having performed in RENT (Roger), Sunday in the Park with George (George), and Assassins (The Balladeer/Lee Harvey Oswald). But in his Farmington Players debut, Gary faces some unique challenges, including “to sing, act and move while working the puppet! I find it quite difficult and I have the utmost respect for those who do it so well. The art of coordinated movement with the puppet is truly an art form. We are fortunate enough to have Connor Rhoades, who plays Nicky and is a gifted puppeteer, giving us pointers and assistance.”
Although he loves musical theater and art, Gary lists “husband and father” as his greatest accomplishments, saying “nothing can really compare to my wife and son.” And his day job isn’t a bad gig either: Gary practices occupational medicine in metro Detroit. So when Princeton (and others) sing, “It Sucks To Be Me,” Gary probably can’t relate … but he is a convincing actor nevertheless.
Avenue Q opens Friday August 10 and runs through Saturday August 25. Get your tickets at www.farmingtonplayers.org or by calling the Farmington Players box office at 248-553-2955. Find us on Facebook under “Farmington Players.”