With 3 Tonys under its belt, a run-off Broadway and a successful 5 year stint in London’s West End, Avenue Q is back with a new revival tour courtesy of Sell A Door Theatre Company and their co-producer Richard Darbourne.
The musical featuring a mix of hand manipulated puppets and human performers was co-created by Jeff Marx and Robert Lomas (Book of Mormon, South Park) who wanted to create Muppet-style characters based on their own hang ups and experiences.
They swear (a lot), drink alcohol, some are gay and there’s a graphic sex scene which will shatter any of your childhood memories of the Muppets!
With songs like ‘It Sucks To Be Me’ and ‘The Internet Is For Porn’ it’s clear that whilst it looks like the set has been borrowed from Sesame Street (and the puppets too) Avenue Q is definitely not for the younger members of your brood, hence the 14+ recommendation. Think of it as an adult parody of that well loved kids programme and you won’t be too far off the mark or too shocked.
The musical is all about growing up, falling in love and finding your purpose in life.
Unlike any of the Jim Henson clan the puppets in Avenue Q are ‘un-PC’ personified. They swear (a lot), drink alcohol, some are gay and there’s a graphic sex scene which will shatter any of your childhood memories of the Muppets!
But hey, we are adults now and this show is FUN! In fact it has the ability to make you laugh non-stop at its witty lyrics and hilarious puppetry.
Lucie-Mae Sumner excels in the dual roles of kindergarten teacher Kate Monster and sexy singer Lucy The Slut. The contrasting characters may be poles apart but she switches from one to the other with ease. Sumner has a fantastic voice and you can’t help but be in awe at the speed in which she swops from one puppet to the next, even at one point having them both have a conversation with each other!
Tom Steedon provides a loveable hero in Princeton the soft spoken English Lit graduate who has just moved to the neighbourhood and Rob, the straight laced republican struggling to come to terms with coming out of the puppet closet.
A special mention must go to Stephen Arden though as the real juggler of the production. Arden switches between 3 characters, Nicky, Trekkie Monster and one of the Bad Idea Bears, which is no mean feat! His portrayal of Trekkie Monster is by far one of the highlights of the show and has the audience in stitches.
There are a few moments during the production where the lighting suffers from being a little too dark and the second half is not as pacy as the first (that could be due to all the best numbers dominating at the start). This said, over 10 years on since Avenue Q first opened it still hasn’t lost its magic. Yes, some of the gags may seem a little dated to those under 25 in the audience (Gary Coleman-who?) but the majority are with the action every step of the way and come from a generation where making a ‘mixtape’ was the norm.
Runs at Manchester’s Opera House till Saturday May 31st.