Musical Review: Avenue Q

Details: Won the 2004 Tony Award for best musical. The official site is http://www.avenueq.com/#home. The playbill for the original Broadway cast can be found at http://www.playbill.com/production/avenue-q-john-golden-theatre-vault-0000008380

Though Avenue Q came out years ago, it’s still a show whose music I listen to periodically and can still give me a chuckle. This is a review of the original Broadway show and obviously the passage of time affects my opinion of this show.

Avenue Q is a comedy about puppets and people who live in New York City and the lessons they learn about how to live there. Think Sesame Street mixed with the humor of South Park and you’ll have a pretty good idea what to expect. It’s a show with mostly humor and very adult themes. The show centers on Rod, a new college graduate who moves to Avenue Q, and his new neighbors at Avenue Q. We follow Rod and his neighbors as Rod tries to reconcile his preconceptions of the real world with actual reality.

This is a very funny musical that is not for kids. Subjects discussed include sex (although its all puppet sex), racism, and homosexuality among others. The humor as well is subversive in that it mildly encourages things like racism while mostly discouraging it as well. If you’re wondering how that’s possible, the answer is humor.

All the songs are very funny and I would say that the music is the highlight of this show. Sometimes a show has a better narrative versus its music, sometimes they are about equal. I’d argue that the music here not only encapsulates the story, but is better than the parts of this musical where there is no singing.

I think the thing that makes this show most obviously unique is the use of puppets with their on stage performers right alongside them, dressed in black to signify that they are playing the puppet character rather than a human character. The performers here do a great job and most actors actually play more than one role since many of the characters are played by puppets. It’s also in their performances that you can see how much of a parody of Sesame Street this is. There’s a pervert Cookie Monster kind of character as well as a Bert and Ernie-esque character where a big joke is a potential homosexual relationship between them.

Overall, I loved Avenue Q and I still love the funny songs. It’s been a few years so you probably won’t be able to find a performance involving the original cast. However, this isn’t one of those shows where anyone’s performance was so unique or talented that it cannot be reprised by another actor. This is one of those shows where the material stands on its own and is not so taxing that I can easily see someone else performing this show well. If you aren’t obsessed with political correctness and get the chance to see this show with a decently professional cast, you should definitely go see it.

Score: 8.3/10

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