Avenue Q

Now playing at The Citadel Theatre is Avenue Q, the last show of the company’s 2014/15 season.i While I’d neven heard of the productionii until arriving at the theatre just before the curtains lifted, this musical has been running for over a decade in that most frigid place where souls go to die : New York City. Here’s my take on the Edmonton production of the Tony award-winning show.

Unrelated to Jim Henson’s Muppets,iii as the printed-out sign hung above the table bearing the show’s programs will dutifully inform you, this 2 hour 15 minute production shone the spotlight on the talented Rachel Bowroniv and ever-charming (An)Drew MacDonald-Smithv as they played a variety of muppet-like characters who sang, danced, laughed, cried, and bunked alongside regular humans (and Gary Coleman) on a run-down street in one of NYC’s less desirable boroughs.

It was an thoroughly enjoyable and very active production as there were more muppet-like characters than actors to shove a fist up them at any given moment,vi so there was constant suspension of disbelief as Rachel and Drew, et al. jumped from one voice to the next to the next. Not that this was too much for the audience, as the choreography, voice control, and scene transitions were deftly executed. Sitting mid-theatre, I didn’t notice a single flub or tremor – it was a pretty spotless production, which allowed my ever-damningvii eye to be drawn effortlessly into the story.

The story itself follows Princeton, a recent English BA grad, as he looks for cheap rental accommodations, his first job out of school, and his purpose in life.viii Avenue Q, the eponymous street where the play is set, provides the first, while his securement of the second is an on-going struggle throughout, and he finds that the third comes from… helping others. Yes, despite the fact that exercising one’s agency is bound to help someone other than one’s self, and despite the fact that you’d have to live in the solitary confinement of deep space for it to be otherwise, this is what the storyline, even if cheekily, builds up to… but only penultimately !

Ultimately, and blessedly, it doesn’t end there. Princeton’s naïveté isn’t left unchecked as the other characters gather round him for the full-cast finale “For Now,”ix which capped off a number of take-home messages I happened to agree with, quite enigmatically for a 21st century production out of the US.x The other two stand-out songs were “Everyone’s a little bit racist” and the the true show-stealer for me, the seventh in the line-up,xi “The Internet is for porn,” an excerpt from which :

KATE: The Internet is really really great…
TREKKIE MONSTER: For porn.
KATE: I’ve got a fast connection so I don’t have to wait…
TREKKIE: For porn.
KATE: Huh? There’s always some new site,
TREKKIE: For porn!
KATE: I browse all day and night…
TREKKIE: For porn!
KATE: It’s like I’m surfing at the speed of light…
TREKKIE: For porn!
KATE: Trekkie!

I mean really, we have our expanded sexualities and frequent orgasms to show for it. So thank you Internet porn.

And thank you Citadel Theatre for 49 years of stellar local productions. To many more as exceptional as Avenue Q.

___ ___ ___

  1. Yes, the theatre where I also took in the much less humourous, edgy, and entertaining Venus in Fur. []
  2. An ignorant is me ! []
  3. And Sesame Street, for that matter, as the mixing of puppets and people isn’t unique to Henson’s shows. In fact, the child-like playfulness of the projected video sequences were very much reminiscent of Sesame Street. “Five nightstands ! Four nightstands…!” []
  4. It just so happens that Rachel and I grew up together and that she was one of my first childhood crushes. I must’ve been going through a dark-haired-siamese-twin phase at the time…

    Rachel Bowron []

  5. Drew and Rachel are a real-life couple, something not overtly advertised to the audience, even if their chemistry might’ve given it away to more astute observers. Or maybe the rest of the packed house had no idea. I dunno, I have my intel and the show was better for it. I mean, how cool would it be to be front and centre alongside your actual partner ?! []
  6. There are only 7 actors in the show, of which 3 play regular human throughout, leaving 4 actors to handle 9 muppets ! []
  7. There are critical critics and there are damning critics, and I’m not forgiving enough of the theatre to be merely “critical.” If I tell you a play was “okay” it’s because I detested it but don’t think you can handle the full brunt of my ever-ready vitriol at that particular moment. This is also why I try to do so much filtering before seeing a show. Avenue Q was one of those lucky times when I accepted an invitation to see it, knew little about it, expected less, and was more than impressed by the result. I really did laugh quite a lot ! []
  8. If Princeton is searching for purposes, is it any wonder he’s what’s feeling owned ?

    Purpose-theory is a NYSE stock, it’s a mortgaged home, it’s a webwallet, it’s the appearance of ownership and control where there’s precisely none to be had. If you “own” these things, you are what’s owned. Full stop.

    []

  9. PRINCETON:
    Why does everything have to be so hard?

    GARY COLEMAN:
    Maybe you’ll never find your purpose.

    CHRISTMAS EVE:
    Lots of people don’t.

    PRINCETON:
    But then- I don’t know why I’m even alive!

    KATE MONSTER:
    Well, who does, really?
    Everyone’s a little bit unsatisfied.

    BRIAN:
    Everyone goes ’round a little empty inside.

    GARY COLEMAN:
    Take a breath,
    Look around,

    BRIAN:
    Swallow your pride,

    KATE MONSTER:
    For now…

    BRIAN, KATE, GARY, CHRISTMAS EVE:
    For now…

    NICKY:
    Nothing lasts,

    ROD:
    Life goes on,

    NICKY:
    Full of surprises.

    ROD:
    You’ll be faced with problems of all shapes and sizes.

    CHRISTMAS EVE:
    You’re going to have to make a few compromises…
    For now…

    TREKKIE MONSTER:
    For now…

    ALL:
    But only for now! (For now)
    Only for now! (For now)
    Only for now! (For now)
    Only for now!

    LUCY:
    For now we’re healthy.

    BRIAN:
    For now we’re employed.

    BAD IDEA BEARS:
    For now we’re happy…

    KATE MONSTER:
    If not overjoyed.

    PRINCETON:
    And we’ll accept the things we cannot avoid, for now…

    GARY COLEMAN:
    For now…

    TREKKIE MONSTER:
    For now…

    KATE MONSTER:
    For now…

    ALL:
    But only for now! (For now)
    Only for now! (For now)
    Only for now! (For now)
    Only for now!

    Only for now!
    (For now there’s life!)
    Only for now!
    (For now there’s love!)
    Only for now!
    (For now there’s work!)
    For now there’s happiness!
    But only for now!
    (For now discomfort!)
    Only for now!
    (For now there’s friendship!)
    Only for now (For now!)
    Only for now!

    Only for now! (Sex!)
    Is only for now! (Your hair!)
    Is only for now! (George Bush!)
    Is only for now!

    Don’t stress,
    Relax,
    Let life roll off your backs
    Except for death and paying taxes,
    Everything in life is only for now!

    NICKY:
    Each time you smile…

    ALL:
    …Only for now

    KATE MONSTER:
    It’ll only last a while.

    ALL:
    …Only for now

    PRINCETON:
    Life may be scary…

    ALL:
    …Only for now
    But it’s only temporary

    Ba-dum ba-dum
    Ba-dum ba-dum
    Ba dum ba-dum
    Ba-da da da da
    ba-da da-da da da-da
    Ba-dum ba-da, ba-dum ba-da
    ohhhh-

    PRINCETON:
    Everything in life is only for now. []

  10. One of the few others being Book of Mormon, which is very much in the same vein as Avenue Q in terms of musicality, humour, and edginess. []
  11. Yes, there are a truly unbelievable 25 songs in Avenue Q. It was seriously song after song after song with nary a break. So bravo to the performers ! Singing for two straight hours without dropping a note is no small task. []

9 thoughts on “Avenue Q

  1. […] wonder where else I might’ve got the idea ? I suppose there’s always porn. In any case, as Dr. Evil noted, there really is nothing like a shorn scrotum. It is breathtaking […]

  2. lobbes says:

    I’ve only listened to the soundtrack, so I am jealous of your viewing of the actual production.

    Worth checking out, I would agree.

    “Everyone’s a rittle bit lacist”

  3. […] men and women were treated to the wonderment that is the expanded mind and tickled curiosity of The Internet Porn Revolution, it wasn’t unusual for an otherwise upstanding woman to ask her male partner to play his role […]

  4. […] I’ve reviewed some plays and discussed some local politics, but I think you’ll agree that the perspective […]

  5. […] feelings or being nice Human culture is best measured in might In literature, art, and symphonies Theatre, science, and philosophies Those heights of human […]

  6. […] South Park and Team America, but Robert Lopez… who’s that ? Only the co-brains behind Avenue Q, that’s who! […]

  7. […] improvisers – two girls and three guys – in this musical theatre-styled show. Being a sucker for musical theatre, not to mention improv, and high off of “The Play’s the […]

  8. […] asked to see his wife’s online porn browsing history… and she obliged him… only for the little man to discover that […]

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