AVENUE Q: HIT BROADWAY MUSICAL
Still Teaching Life Lessons in New York City
A SoundPress.net Event Feature by Rich and Laura Lynch

Many of us grew up watching the television show Sesame Street. It was educational, entertaining and conveyed a message to children that we were special beings. As we grew up we may have discovered that we were not as unique as we were led to believe. Avenue Q the musical is based on this revelation.

Avenue Q - Broadaway's Hit Musical Still Teaching Life Lesson in New York City

Avenue Q's creators Robert Lopez, Jeff Marx and Jeff Whittly conceived their coming of age story with Sesame Street in mind. The main character is Princeton. He is a recent college graduate in pursuit of his purpose in life but regular encounters with everyday adult problems derail him from his goal.

Princeton's search unfolds through people and puppeteers all living in an outer borough of New York City on a Street called Avenue Q. The musical is filled with colorful characters and controversial issues such as drinking, pornography, racism and unemployment. Due to the mature subject matter and puppet sex this play is more suitable for teens and above.

Avenue Q debuted in 2003. In 2004 it won three Tony awards including Best Musical. Since 2009, it has taken up residence at the New World Stages located at 340 W 50th Street in New York City. SoundPress.net attended an afternoon performance of Avenue Q on April 6, 2013.

We found ourselves on a shabby city street with two big TV's on the side of the stage. We saw a video with a happy singing sun that soon turned sad because there are lots of bills to pay. This set the tone for Avenue Q where comical lyrics and cheerful hooks convey the not so nice reality of adulthood. The point was hit home by the cast as they sung the spirited "It Sucks to Be Me". The song was also an introduction to the characters and their various circumstances.

Nicky and Rod who share an apartment are based on Ernie and Bert from Sesame Street. Nicky is easy going and Rod is a rather up-tight closet queen. As the various story lines unfolded more candid commentary was presented in catchy songs including "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist" and "The Internet Is for Porn".

The TV screens on the sides were occasionally used for letter and word combinations that were reminiscent of the way Sesame Street use to teach children. This came into play as Princeton stated he must find his "Purpose" and Kate Monster shares that she wants to start a Monster School.

Like Sesame Street the people mingle with the puppets. At Avenue Q the actors are also handling the puppets and move and express the feelings that their characters are going through. Two more puppets are introduced and they are the "Bad Idea Bears". You might recognize these little voices in your head. Perhaps you recall the same argument that the cute duo presented that it is more economical to buy a case of beer rather than a six pack.

The second act opens with a reprisal of "It Sucks to Be Me" with the "Bad Idea Bears" suggesting suicide to Princeton who was dealing with depression and being old at age 23. More difficulties and lessons unfolded for the cast in the second half. Yet, just like in real life sometimes the light comes after the darkest hour and impossible dreams do come true. Avenue Q was funny, frank and it was educational. It was a musical reminder that being an adult can be hard but that life and people are still special after all.

Avenue Q is one of five productions currently running at The New World Stages, located in the heart of Manhattan and Hells Kitchen, where there are plenty of restaurants and shops to explore before or after a show. The theater complex has its own green space and it is close to the subway and ample parking.

Related Links: For more information on AVENUE Q and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - Avenue Q | New World Stages

(Originally Published on April 09, 2013)

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