Reviewed by Louise Edwards
Avenue Q is a neighbourhood in New York where people of different genders, races, sexual orientation and beliefs live happily together, alongside monsters. The idea originated with co-creators Jeff Marx and Bobby Lopez who wanted to use Muppet style characters with narrative from their own thoughts, attitudes and experiences. It was designed as a late night comedy show but the idea was broached of turning it into a stage musical.
Since then it has won Tony Awards for best musical, best original score and best original book running successfully on Broadway and in the West End as well as throughout the world having universal success.
Marx and Lopez also write the music and lyrics with some catchy tunes and amusing lyrics – songs like “everyone’s a little bit racist” and “I wish I could go back to college” as well as countless others will be your earworm for a few days afterwards. Musical director, Dean McDernott seamlessly blasts out the tunes – amazing!
The stage is simple and doesn’t change throughout the whole production, showing the fronts of the apartments on the street. The windows open to indicate when action is taking place inside.
Puppet designer Paul Jonain and Director Cressida Carre are just two of the many talented creatives behind the scenes as well as a technical team led by production manager Titch Gosling.
The puppeteers hold and operate the puppets as well as performing the songs for one or sometimes two of them at the same time.
We meet Princeton (the incredibly talented Lawrence Smith), a fresh face college graduate, who is a looking for a room to rent. When he moves on to Avenue Q he gets a lot more of an education than he bargained for as we meet the other inhabitants of the flats – Kate Monster (played by Cecily Redman) a lonely preschool assistant hoping to find love, three human characters – Christmas Eve played by Saori Oda, her husband Brian played by Oliver Stanley and Gary Coleman (played by Nicolas McLean as well as friends Nicky (played by Tom Steedon) and Rod (also played by Lawrence Smith). Along the way we meet other characters who develop the story and there are incredibly funny moments that everyone can relate to.
All of the cast are brilliant but Smith, Redman and Steedon are amazing as they handle the singing and acting of more than one puppet with a remarkable voice range.
All the inhabitants are searching for their own life’s purpose in some way – denying their sexuality or on the wrong career path.
It is known as the musical for people who don’t like musicals and it definitely has a different vibe to your traditional musical with a nod to Sesame Street mixed with adult themes.
Avenue Q handles serious issues like racism, anxiety, drunkenness, internet porn and gay love to name a few in a way that you can get away with more using puppets instead of real people.
It is rude, offensive, hilarious and silly, yet has a strong feel good message, definitely a night out with a difference and an original unique production with powerful puppetry and vocal performances of the cast.
Tickets cost from £19 to £41 (booking fees may apply).
Avenue Q is at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham from 15-20 July 2019, for more information or to book tickets visit www.trch.co.uk or call the box office on 0115 989 5555.
Theatre Royal & Royal Concert Hall, Theatre Square, Nottingham, NG1 5ND