The production of Avenue Q by Jeff Witty was performed by The Nebraska Repertory Theatre and was directed by Andy Park. I attended the show in Lincoln on March 18th. It was the last showing of this set. I chose this performance because everyone always says the best is always saved for last, right? I really enjoyed this play. It was just the right mix of touching moments and hilarious ones. I wasn’t so sure about the puppets beforehand, but after watching the Avenue Q I would definitely be less skeptical if given the chance to see a similar production.
Avenue Q was on a stage similar to a proscenium-like stage, but the audience was inches away from the stage. I sat in the second row so I could see the entirety of the stage but still experience the closeness that this particular stage created.
In the play, the use of a billboard-like sign was definitely a good touch. From helping to establish setting and mood to teaching us about numbers and discovering our purpose (...or was it to propose? Haha, either way). The rest of the set included a few apartment buildings and an empty storefront with the silhouettes of a sleeping city in the background.
The background lights changed with the time of day to give it a realistic appearance. It gave the stage the feeling of the modern day, but with a bit of a run down look as well. Everything was put together well and the lights never distracted the audience from what was going on. Even when the swirling colored lights of the bad idea bears were lighting up the stage. The use of spotlights during “night” and during the singing parts helped to keep out focus during the show. The light crew did a good job of keeping the mood throughout the show.
On stage right there was a fire escape ladder belonging to the one and only Gary Coleman who was the foreman of the apartments on Avenue Q. Karen Richards did a great job playing the former child star. Her energy and demeanor as Gary Coleman was spot on. Below the fire escape is where the FOR RENT sign was located that fresh out of college Princeton stumbled upon on his difficult search for a place to live. I think it would be almost impossible to not like Princeton when he was played by Matthew Carter who did an amazing job alongside Aguel Lual who flawlessly played both Kate Monster, Princeton’s love interest and neighbor, and Lucy, the well-known performer that had all the other characters drooling- including Princeton.
What I liked about the characters (especially the puppets) is that the puppeteer's outfits matched their character, but they didn’t match perfectly. You could tell that the actor and the puppet went together, but the puppet was still the main focus. You would probably say that the costumes are modern, but maybe a little dated since these people convey that they aren’t the most well off since they are living on Avenue Q. I also really enjoyed Brian’s costume because it helped to show his dorky and not-so-put-together personality.
The story behind this musical was very relatable as were the events and problems everyone faced, even when the issues seemed to border on the extremes of situations. Since I was able to relate to the characters and the story it made it much more enjoyable in my opinion. Being able to laugh at the issues as well made it one of the best play/musicals I have seen so far. The show made light of issues a lot of people face on a daily basis and helped to maybe even give hope to its audience and allow people to laugh at some of the misfortunes of others (hence schadenfreude).
My favorite part of the show was probably when Kate Monster was waiting for Princeton on the Empire State Building and threw Princeton’s Lucky penny since he didn’t show up. The penny must have been pretty damn lucky considering it hit Kate Monster’s (probably) nemesis Lucy and she ended up having to go to the hospital. This was one of the funniest moments, probably because it was sad at first, but you knew something was going to happen as soon as she started talking about Princeton’s penny. A close second to this scene is probably the marriage of Brian and Christmas Eve because Christmas eve actually walked down the aisle between us and asked an audience member to walk her down the aisle. I loved how when the audience all looked back at Christmas Eve and she yelled at us for not standing up. It was one of my favorite ways that I’ve ever seen a show interact with their audience.
My favorite song in the show was probably “My Girlfriend Who Lives in Canada”. Rod is obviously lying when he slips up and the song itself is easy to laugh at. Adding to that most of us probably know someone in our lives who has lied about a significant other -another reason why this show is very relatable and enjoyable.
Overall I really enjoyed this show and I would be willing to see it again. From the reactions of the other audience members, I would say that they agreed. The ending was happy, as what is typically expected, and Kate Monster finally got her school for monsters. A little twist at the end when a new version of Princeton comes into town and sings about the useless B.A. in english he has gives you the idea that all the things that just happened are just going to repeat and that it’s a small world after all, but let’s just say this guy is not going to have it and sets all the others on Avenue Q straight. This little ending scene helped to bring a little more reality and comedy into a happy ending.
Sometimes musicals aren’t easy to get into since people don’t actually start singing like that in real life, but this was a great experience. I enjoyed all of the cast members and their characters, the way they used their stage and the props they had, and it was a very well done show. I would recommend this show to almost everyone. It is absolutely worth the time to watch and if you aren’t opposed to some risque jokes and great laughs this show is an absolute must see.