Avenue Q | Fabulous Fox Theater

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theat_aveq_sm.jpgWhat do you get when you cross Sesame Street with RENT and throw in a side of late-night Cinemax soft-core porn?

 

  

St. Louis
through Feb. 24, 2008

play_avenue_q_photo_three.jpg

What do you get when you cross Sesame Street with RENT and throw in a side of late-night Cinemax soft-core porn? You get Avenue Q, the witty, gritty and hilarious Tony Award-winning Broadway musical playing now through February 24 at the Fabulous Fox Theater. 

Avenue Q is the story of Princeton (Robert McClure), a bright-eyed college grad armed with a degree in English, who comes to NYC with big dreams and a tiny bank account, in order to find his "purpose" in life. The only apartment he can afford is on the fictional "Avenue Q," an off-the-beaten path reference no doubt to the bohemian Alphabet City neighborhood of the East Village (which in actuality only goes up to Avenue D). Oh, and did I mention that Princeton is a puppet?

On Avenue Q, Princeton is met by his new neighbors, an eclectic group of humans, people-like puppets and "monster" puppets that bear a striking resemblance to some of our favorite characters from the most beloved PBS children's television show. There's even a pair of male roommates, Rod (also Robert McClure) and Nicky (David Benoit), who sleep in twin beds separated by a nightstand—reminiscent of the sexually ambiguous male puppet "couple" Bert and Ernie. Except instead of his rubber ducky, the closeted Rod has special fondness for his roommate. All of the puppets in the show are "played" by talented human actors, dressed head to toe in grey clothing to "blend in" to the background, even though they are onstage working their magic, dancing and singing alongside their felt alter-egos.

The human characters in the neighborhood include Brian (Cole Porter), an unemployed aspiring stand-up comic and his stereotypical Japanese bride-to-be, Christmas Eve (Angela Ai), as well as the group's landlord, Gary Coleman (indeed a parody of the former child star, played by native St. Louisan Carla Renata). There are also several "monster" denizens, including a neurotic and fuzzy character named Trekkie Monster (David Benoit), who sounds a lot like Cookie Monster but is addicted to Internet porn rather than chocolate chips, and Kate Monster (standout Kelli Sawyer), a sweet teaching assistant looking for true love who falls for Princeton. Then there are the fabulous "Bad Idea Bears," who act as devils on Princeton's shoulder, encouraging him to do things like spend the little money his parents have sent him on beer. Last but certainly not least is the sultry lounge singer puppet aptly named Lucy the Slut, who flaunts her felt cleavage to any male who crosses her path.

Though it closely follows and parodies the format of Sesame Street, with sing-song life lessons, animated video interludes and a similar street scene set, this is definitely not a show for kids. Avenue Q deals with very adult issues such as sex, racism, homosexuality, poverty and porn, and really "tells it like it is." The residents of Avenue Q aren't afraid to say the things that are on everyone's mind but that not many people talk about openly through hysterically entertaining musical numbers such as "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist," "The Internet Is for Porn," and "You Can Be as Loud as the Hell You Want When You're Makin' Love." There is even a "graphic" sex scene between romantic interests Princeton and Kate Monster (now that I have seen puppets fornicate on stage, I can safely say I have seen everything).

As long as you have an open mind and a good sense of humor and are not easily offended, Avenue Q is a delightful and entertaining way to spend an evening at the theater. As the mother of a three-year-old, I have the pleasure of watching Sesame Street every single weekday morning. Somehow I don't think I'll ever look at it the same way again. | Amy Burger

Read Jim Ousley's profile of Avenue Q's Carla Renata

Avenue Q continues at the Fox Theatre through February 24. Tickets range from $22-60. For more information, visit the Fox Theatre online, http://www.metrotix.com/, or call 314-534-1111.

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