Review: Avenue Q is fabulous, fuzzy, filthy fun

Usually, mentioning in a review that you didn’t even notice an actor on stage is the ultimate insult.

Friday, 12th July 2019, 12:32 pm
Updated Wednesday, 17th July 2019, 4:00 pm
Nicky (Tom Seedon) and Rod (Lawrence Smith)

But in the case of Avenue Q, it’s the ultimate accolade.

The musical was inspired by Sesame Street and the characters are the same blend of humans and Muppet-style puppets.

But there are no garbage cans or tricky camera angles here – the actors are right there on stage, manipulating the puppets and singing and acting.

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Lawrence Smith as Princeton

It’s a sign of how well staged and performed the show is that after a couple of minutes, the audience has forgotten the puppeteers are even there and is entirely focused on the fuzzy creations.

The show tells the story of the various characters, actual human, puppet human and monster, who find themselves sharing a run-down New York tenement – fresh-faced Preston, kindergarten teacher Kate, closeted Rod and slacker room-mate Nicky, on whom he has a crush.

Throw in humans Brian, fiancee Christmas Eve and building custodian (and former Diff’rent Strokes star) Gary Coleman, as well as porn-obsessed Trekkie Monster and the cute-but-entirely-irresponsible Bad Idea Bears, along with a bunch of hilarious and frequently filthy songs, it’s a winning combination.

Be warned though – it’s not for the easily offended. Song titles include If You Were Gay, The Internet is for Porn, and Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist. There’s even a scene of raw, uninhibited puppet on monster action.

Nicholas McLean as Gary Coleman

It is, however, warm-hearted and laugh-out-loud funny.

The cast combine West End quality vocals with Jim Henson quality puppetry skills.

Cecily Redman, as Kate and Lucy, and Lawrence Smith as Princeton and Rod are particularly unoutstanding, if that makes sense, producing Broadway qality performances at arm’s length, while Tom Seedon and Megan Armstrong combine to brilliant effect to bring Trekkie Monster to life. Saoria Oda (Eve), Oliver Stanley (Brian) and Nicholas McLean (Gary) are uniformly excellent and the ensemble players don’t miss a trick.

By Kevin Clark

Brian (Oliver Stanley)
The cast on stage