I will own up now: I have never seen Avenue Q. Heard about it yes; actually see it, well, no. When a friend asked if we would go along with a group, we said yes. He saw it twice already and this would be the third, so surely there must be something to it? It was going to be in the Bord Gais Energy Theatre (still being called the Grand Canal Theatre by everyone I know). So for one week, this big theatre became Avenue Q, and the evening I was there, which was mid-week, the place was full.
Other than the show was like a grown up Sesame Street, and having songs like 'The Internet is for Porn' and 'Everyone's a Little Bit Racist' I did know it wasn't a show for kids. What it is though is a lot of fun, which is what most people say of it, but it is more than that: it is laugh out loud fun. But what no one mentioned before, perhaps being caught up in the craziness or lack of PC in it, something you can get away with using puppets, is that it has lots of heart.
Performers play the part of the puppets in most cases, but there are some 'only human' type characters. The idea behind the show, put forward in the first song, is of a college graduate, Princeton, wondering 'What Do You Do with a B.A In English?'. The evening runs the gamut of finding yourself, love and pain, fitting in, accepting and picking yourself up, backed up by the already mentioned songs, and other wonderful tunes like 'There's a Fine, Fine Line', 'For Now' and even 'I Wish I Could go Back to College'.
The actors are great, and the use of puppets and seeing them, makes you wonder sometimes who to focus on: the puppet or the acting going on alongside it. In all cases, the actors with puppets are fantastic. The human characters consist of Gary Coleman (yes, that one), Brian and the amazing Christmas Eve. In one scene in particular, Christmas Eve, for me, really stole the show in a brilliant comic scene not to be missed. It stopped the show that night! I got to see Katie Finnernan comic performance in Promises, Promises on Broadway and this was up there with it.
The set was simple: that New York look with the stoops, even giving a nice sample of the Empire State, all working very well, while the orchestra were amazing, always the unseen, well until the end anyway.
I knew very little about this show, and perhaps its the best way going into it, but it did give a great night's entertainment in a brash, 'are they really doing that kind of way' in places, and yet, left the audience feeling good and uplifted. The elderly woman in front of us left the theatre with a huge smile. It is worth seeing if it's popping round near you on the tour. Check out the site for details and take a trip down to Avenue Q.