It’s not exactly sunny day, sweepin’ the clouds away, on the way to where the air is sweet on Avenue Q.
Unlike that other street, where puppets and humans interact and sing the alphabet, this award-winning stage musical is about poor sadsacks who actually have to pay bills – and features such songs as I’m Not Wearing Underwear Today and If You Were Gay.
The irreverently witty and outright uproarious musical is billed as “Sesame Street for adults” and comes with this warning: “full puppet nudity and other vulgarities will induce laughter.” (Hey, I don’t make this stuff up.)
Now celebrating its 51st season, Vancouver’s Arts Club Theatre Company brings Avenue Q to the Vernon Performing Arts Centre Thursday, following its hit performances of Boeing Boeing, Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story, A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline and The Number 14.
Part felt, part flesh, and packed with songs that are surprisingly poignant and only occasionally PC, Avenue Q has won numerous awards, including two Theatre World Awards. In 2004 it won the Tony “triple crown,” beating out Wicked for Best Musical, and also taking home Best Book for Jeff Whitty and Best Original Score for Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, who also wrote the lyrics.
The Broadway hit has also been lauded since it started touring the world. The performance was recently held over for two months when it staged in Vancouver.
“The music is playful, the lyrics are outrageous, the script is hilarious, and the characters are delightful,” said Peter Jorgensen, who is directing the Arts Club production currently on tour through B.C. “Underneath its colourful fur, a big, boisterous heart beats. Avenue Q is the perfect musical comedy…unless you are under 14 years of age. I’m thrilled to be taking our hit production on tour to entertain even more audiences.”
This is a puppet show. However, Avenue Q is not your kids’ puppet show as it sneaks peeks at raucous sexual congress, failed childhood stardom, excessive drinking, moving in and out of a slummy neighbourhood, investing, getting laid off, finding your purpose, getting fired, getting re-hired, exotic dancing, erotic dancing, exotic-erotic dancing, homosexuality, racism, coming out of the closet, coming out of your apartment, getting ahead in life, going to college, pan-handling, wishing you were back in college, coming out of your shell, recycling, and so it goes.
The musical story of Princeton (Jeremy Crittenden), a bright-eyed college graduate who arrives in New York City looking for love, a job, and his purpose in life, the only neighbourhood he can afford is the multicultural Avenue Q, where Sesame Street-esque puppets rub shoulders with humans.
Some of those humans taking the stage, besides Crittenden, include Jeny Cassady, Kayla Dunbar, Nick Fontaine, Evangelia Kambites, Andy Toth, and Selina Wong. They perform those irreverently witty musical numbers backed by musicians John Bews, Niko Friesen and David Sikula under the direction of music director Sean Bayntun.
The show’s set designer is Marshall McMahen, who has designed numerous sets for Caravan Farm Theatre.
Avenue Q takes the stage at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre Thursday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $47 for adults, $44 for seniors, and $42 for students. Call the Ticket Seller box office at 250-549-SHOW (7469) or go online to www.ticketseller.ca.