This show was the triple crown Tony Award winner for Best Score (music and lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx,) Best Book (by Jeff Whitty) and Best Musical in 2004. It is described as "part flesh, part felt and packed with heart. Avenue Q is a laugh-out-loud musical that tells the timeless story of a recent college grad named Princeton who moves into a shabby New York apartment all the way out on Avenue Q. He soon discovers that although the residents seem nice, it's clear that this is not your ordinary neighborhood. Together Princeton and his new-found friends struggle to find jobs, dates, and their ever-elusive purpose in life."
Before the show, the director did the announce himself; he reminded the audience that since the price of admission was nothing, we would have to listen to him for a while and no one could complain. Bob Tansley () has directed 52 shows in 20 years, but he called this one the most exciting one he has ever done. He explained that the cast was made up of Post students (some of them international ones,) faculty and staff and he shared that all the work of the show was being done by students. He closed with a strong admonition that under no circumstance were we to give money to the puppets. Not something you hear at any other show.
Make no mistake: the puppets (some rod puppets and some that require two persons to operate) were adorable, but the stars of the show were definitely the performers/puppeteers. This cast was so professional and worked so well together that I forgot that I was on a college campus. There was not a flubbed line or a missed lyric. Without exception, they did an amazing job with their roles, some human and some puppet/human. The professional puppeteer in my family would have been impressed with the ease that these actors worked together with the puppets. I found myself watching them both as they spoke, sang and moved. Many of the performers and band members had appeared in last year's Little Shop of Horrors.
This musical required them to sing a lot. Songs like "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist," "Schadenfrende," and "My Girlfriend Who Lives in Canada." Not exactly the Disneyfied stuff that is on Broadway or Sesame Street, but very funny. Probably not appropriate for anyone under 17; hence the R rating.
of Cheshire has a clear tenor voice that was perfect for the role of "Princeton." Allison Smith (also co-director) tackled the role of "Kate Monster" and Ben Orlando (a WAMS graduate) was excellent in the role of "Rod" (as in rod puppet.) Ray DelValle (last year's evil dentist in Little Shop) was great as half of "Trekkie Monster" and "Bad Idea Boy Bear." Shanna Kay Anderson covered "Bad Idea Girl Bear" and "Mrs. Thistletwat" the kindergarten teacher. Rayale Faison, in her Post debut, played the sexy "Lucy" with lots of attitude.
Patrick Hearn ("Floyd Spinner" in ) claims to have been involved in community theatre since God was a baby and co-directed with Mr. Tansley at for ten years. Last year at Post he was the voice of the plant "Audrey II" from backstage, but here he co-played "Nicky" (with Alicia Mala as the puppet's right hand.) With a voice reminiscent of Jim Henson, he was a joy to watch. The human-only roles were Micai Tucker as "Gary Coleman," Meizi Chen as "Christmas Eve" and as "Brian;" all gave wonderful performances.
Mr. Tansley did an amazing job once again of helping this cast shine. The fine six piece band was conducted by multiple-instrument player Keith Wilson. They once again sat single file and Naugatuck Community Band and Rubber City Blues Band member Scott Spallone expertly covered the bass lines. The set (designed by Anthony Medaglia) was functional and well-painted.
disproves the theory that you get what you pay for. If you are an adult, make an online reservation with Mr. Tansley and take advantage of this fun performance next weekend.