Cheeky and cheerful, the Tony Award-winning Avenue Q is now 17 years old, but still keeps audiences smiling. It’s Sesame Street for adults, with a sunny score and lovable characters that manage to melt your heart while singing about mature themes like racism and porn! The muppet musical has countless 5 star reviews, so there was plenty of hype surrounding Avenue Q’s latest UK tour.
The story follows graduate Princeton, who struggles to find his purpose in life in the real world. He decides to rent an apartment on the colourful Avenue Q, meeting neighbours Kate Monster, Trekkie Monster, Brian and Christmas Eve, Rod and Nicky. Not to mention the satirical character of Gary Coleman, the superintendent.
Princeton kicks off the show with the musical number What do you do with a BA in English?, which quickly transpires into the next track It Sucks to be Me. Despite the depressing theme of the songs, they both had an upbeat undertone that perseveres throughout the show.
Avenue Q’s soundtrack is the work of musical masterminds Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx. The pair have a great catalogue of songs to their name, including Frozen’s Let It Go. Lopez is also one of the co-creators of award-winning The Book of Mormon, after teaming up with South Park duo Trey Parker and Matt Stone.
So it’s no wonder that Avenue Q’s songs also possess that controversial, tongue-in-cheek nature. ‘Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist’ and ‘The Internet is For Porn’ are the most daring, but undeniably score the most laughs. Pointing out people in the audience, Trekkie Monster hilariously broke down the fourth wall indicating they too watch porn online. The squeaky high-pitched Bad Idea Bears were also favourites, as they mischievously egg on Princeton to do bad things.
In between the laughs, the audience also gave plenty of sighs, as Kate Monster and Princeton’s romance and Nicky and Rod’s friendship pulled on heartstrings.
But beyond the incredible story and music behind Avenue Q lies a super talented cast, worthy of their own 5 star reviews. The actors stood visibly on stage as they morphed into their muppets. Through embodying the characters’ emotions and feelings, the cast give life and a whole range of expressions to the puppets.
Many of the actors also played multiple characters. But Cecily Redman was perhaps the most impressive, as she voiced two characters involved in one conversation several times. She admirably transitioned from Kate Monster’s wobbly voice to the sultry, country swagger of Lucy the Slut. Similarly, Tom Steedon showed us his broad vocal range, taking us from the raw, Cookie Monster-esque rasp of Trekki Monster to the Elmo-pitched Bad Idea Bear.
Despite evoking the likes of Sesame Street, Avenue Q is certainly not for children. As the fuzzy characters participate in x-rated scenes, the musical is a pioneer in making theatre fun for adults. It’s the perfect antidote to a hard day’s work, and you’ll no doubt be humming the theme tune on your way to the office the next day.