Originally conceived by Jeff Marx and Robert Lopez, Avenue Q is a Broadway musical, which opened off-Broadway at the Vineyard Theatre in Union Square in March 2003 and has been on Broadway at the John Golden Theatre since July 31, 2003. It won 2003 Lucille Lortel Award for Best Musical and the 2004 Tony Award for Best Musical as well as Tony Awards for Best Score and Best Book of a Musical, defeating the much bigger-scale, front-runner musical of the season, ?Wicked?.
With a cast that is 3/4 puppets, performed by visible puppeteers and 1/4 real live actors, Avenue Q?s show premise is simple: What would Sesame Street be like if it was marketed towards 20-somethings instead of toddlers? Avenue Q?s creators and performers, Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx are huge fans of Sesame Street and know the format well. The show's adult lessons are taught to the audience mainly through the eyes of Princeton (John Tartaglia), a recent college graduate who has big dreams and no money. While he struggles to find a job and figure out his feelings for his new neighbor Kate Monster (Stephanie D'Abruzzo), the show teaches many of lessons through songs. The musical numbers span from racism, with ?Everyone's a Little Bit Racist?, to Internet use, with ?The Internet is for Porn.? Other than them, Rod, Trekkie and Lucy are a few other chracters.
The puppets bear an astonishing likeness to Sesame Street characters, not too surprising as they were brought to the stage by a Sesame Street designer, Rick Lyon. Avenue Q's buxom Lucy can be compared with Miss Piggy with cleavage! The producers of Avenue Q Musical speak of a ?charming yet rundown outer-borough neighborhood? like may be Brooklyn, where residents deal with the usual challenges of living in New York City. Quotes such as ?Warning: Full Puppet Nudity?, ?What the fuzz are you looking at?, ?Slightly overweight puppet seeking soul mate? and ?I am NOT a closeted homowhatever!? makes one want to see it more and more.
Sesame's use of animation as a teaching tool is also used as flat screen monitors mounted on each side of the stage display short animated films that express Princeton's inner thoughts through educational animation. Most adults in their mid-20s or early 30s easily relate to the challenges faced by the characters and leave the theater with a greater sense of serenity and understanding than when they walked in. This is true magic of Avenue Q! Broadway The show has important messages to share and presents lessons from which everyone will be able to take something.
Avenue Q Broadway does a great job of satirizing the Sesame Street puppet style and show format with a strong sense of humor and splashy music. It actually carries the following legal caveat: ?Avenue Q Musical has not been authorized or approved in any manner by The Jim Henson Company or Sesame Workshop, which have no responsibility for its content.? The smash hit is all set to begin its first national tour in San Francisco at the Orpheum Theatre.
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