AVENUE Q opens the CATCO 2012-13 season with a delightful and satirical look at the struggles of coming into adulthood after college. But this is not the average coming of age story! Imagine Sesame Street teaching about racism, homosexuality, and one-night stands! But unlike the kids show, in this parody the actors handle the puppets in full view, which allows them to brilliantly convey the puppets' emotions through the attitude of their own body movements and facial expressions. And underneath it all Avenue Q is a sweet story of wanting to change the world, falling in love, making mistakes and learning to accept who you are.
Taboo topics are discussed with humor throughout the show and "THE INTERNET IS FOR PORN", and "YOU CAN BE AS LOUD AS THE HELL YOU WANT (WHEN YOU'RE MAKIN' LOVE)" are a couple of the funniest songs. However, this award-winning score isn't just for laughs it is also filled with intricate harmonies, clever instrumentation and pretty melodies.
The show opens with a hopeful Princeton (Cody Michael Shope) searching for his purpose in life after his recent college graduation with a "useless" B.A. in English. He moves into Manhattan's low-rent Alphabet City on fictional Avenue Q in a building whose superintendent is none other than 'Whatcha Talkin' About Willis,' former child actor Gary Coleman (Patricia Wallace-Winbush).
The other tenants in the building, both human and puppets, are dealing with some of the responsibilities of adulthood too. This colorful group includes Brian (Patrick Walters), an out of work comedian and his fiancé, Christmas Eve (Nicolette Montana), a therapist with no clients. Rod (Shope), an "in-the-closet" gay, Republican who shares his place with Nicky (Don Knoblauch) a good-natured slob, Trekkie Monster (Knoblauch), an internet porn junkie who lives on the top floor, and Kate Monster (Carmen Keels), an endearing kindergarten teacher's assistant whose real dream is to build a school for monsters.
Versatility by the actors is vital in this production and they impressively switch between roles seamlessly. Shope is wonderful and plays both the optimistic Princeton and the conflicted, uptight Rod with ease. Knoblauch adapts his persona between amiable Nicky and the reclusive Trekkie Monster . But my favorite is Keels who plays Kate Monster and Lucy The Slut, a lounge singer always ready for a good time. Not only is Keels' voice outstanding, but she can bounce between the two opposing roles in the same scene.
Avenue Q delivers a lesson about self-discovery, friendship and a whole lot of fun!
Avenue Q has been extended to August 26 with performances in the Studio Theatres at the Vern Riffe Center (77 S. High St.) Tickets start at $41 and are available at the box office at 41 E. State St. (next to the Ohio Theatre), by calling 614.469.0939, visiting www.ticketmaster.com or any central Ohio Ticketmaster location.
Photo Credit: Meloney Buehl, LightSwitch Creative