by DICK KEREKES
Fans of comedy clubs, Saturday Night Live and Comedy Central, Broadway has produced a musical that will suit your taste to a “T”. The Tony Award winning Avenue will be on stage at the Times Union Center until December l4, with the final performance at 7:30 pm.
The plot touches on subjects of depression, internet sex, homophobia and racism. If none of that shocks you read on. Avenue Q is something more than its sometimes raunchy situations. You see the actors are connected at the elbow to fuzzy little puppets, which sing and talk and by the middle of Act I will have you charmed and rooting for them.
The setting is a row of apartments on New York’s fictional Avenue Q. The end of the line, the cheapest place to live and if you can’t afford this, then living in the streets is your next option.
The show has some zany, quirky and very interesting characters. The main character is Princeton, just out of college; he has come to the city to find his purpose in life. Brian, an unemployed wannabe comic married to a Japanese therapist, Christmas Eve, (yes, that is her name), Katie Monster, a pre-school teaching assistant who wants to start a school for monsters, Rod, a Republican and still in the closet gay whose roommate is Nicky and is not sure about being gay, Lucy Slut, a torch singer who reminded me of Miss Piggy, Trekkie Monster who is recluse and lives for internet porn, and finally the superintendent of the building, Gary Coleman, the former child TV star who is played by a talented actor. Except for Brian, Christmas Eve, and Gary, they are all puppets manipulated by actors.
The songs in the show will never make the hit parade but you will find them as catchy as their titles, “If You Were Gay”, “I am not wearing any Underwear”, ‘Internet is for Porn” and “Everybody is a bit Racist”. There are more, but you get the idea.
Other highlights include, video screens that are lowered down on occasion to show short humorous educational videos. In act two all the actors come out into the audience to take up collection to build the monster school. They don’t expect to collect any money, but actually did get a few bucks. The funniest line of the night occurred when a donated ticket to a Jaguars game was pulled out of a hat.
The show does have some modesty as the full frontal nudity of the puppets and the sex scene between them is done in subdued lighting!!
This is a thoroughly clever and entertaining show, a little off beat for some, but if you dig the humor, you’ll laugh your buns off (or your socks depending on how modest you are). This is a terrifically talented cast with great voices and to single out each individual excellence would merely re-state the cast list. Most of the cast came from the original Broadway production so it doesn’t get much better than that.
Here are a couple of hints to enhance your enjoyment when you make the trip to Avenue Q. If you opt for the $l9.00 tickets take along binoculars as those little puppets can be tough to see from way up top. If you are going to an evening performance, go early enough to see the Christmas tree light show at the Landing. It runs every hour on the hour starting at 6 pm and is terrific.
Call 632-3373 for information or tickets. Performances are at the Time Union Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Jacksonville. Unless you go to New York, this may be your only opportunity to see this unique and exciting show.
by DICK KEREKES