Grown-up “Sesame Street.” “Rent” minus the AIDS. “Friends” with puppets. These are some of the things that have been used to describe Avenue Q, and they’re all true. What nobody ever fails to point out, however, is that the show is very, very fun to watch. Any show that comes with a parental advisory “Full Puppet Nudity” is bound to be fun.
The characters are twenty-something to early thirties college graduates trying to make their way in the adult world. Almost everyone can find something to respond to in the themes that the show tackles: relationships, careers, the search for purpose, the journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance.
Who hasn’t felt as Kate Monster did, as she sang oh-so-heart-breakingly,
“I guess if someone doesn’t love you back
it isn’t such a crime
But there’s a fine, fine line
and a waste of your time
And I don’t have the time to waste on you anymore
For my own sanity I’ve got to close the door
And walk away
Who hasn’t wallowed in self-pity and chose to mope around and hide from the world like Princeton did, when everything in his career and personal life seemed to be going wrong? All of us should have friends who would get us off our asses, telling us,
“There is life outside your apartment,
but you’ve got to open the door!”
Who wouldn’t laugh out loud at Trekkie Monster, ruining Kate’s song by blurting out,
“The internet is for porn. Porn, porn, porn!”
Who hasn’t wondered, at one point or another, about one’s Purpose, “that little flame that lights a fire under your ass”?
As Princeton asks, “Why does everything have to be so hard?”
All this tackled in a two-hour show that in the end would leave your cheeks hurting from too much laughing, but also smiling and sighing wistfully at times.
The puppetry is amazing, with the actors and their puppets blending together and you’re hard put to decide whether to watch the actor or the puppet, because both certainly deliver the goods. And wait, is that Kate basically talking to herself, as she morphed into Lucy T. Slut? Some of the actors play two puppet roles whose characters are invariably so in contrast with the each other, one marvels at the lightning-quick transformations that happen as they switch voices or turn over a puppet to another “hand.” Sweet innocent Kate (Carla Guevarra) turns into vampy Lucy T. Slut, Nicky the slacker roommate (Joel Trinidad) doubles as the porn-addict Trekkie Monster, and Princeton (Felix Rivera) is also Rod, the Republican banker with a secret.
Ultimately, they’re all lovable characters, together forming a perfect community at the street called Avenue Q. At the end of the show, as the whole ensemble sings the finale, you would have been completely taken in, cheering them on (and yourself too) as they decide that it’s okay, they’ll take on their problems, there will be compromises, surprises; they’re happy, if not overjoyed, but for now, only for now.