I’d heard a lot of good things about Avenue Q, and had caught a glimpse or two on various television showcases, but hadn’t yet had the chance to experience it for myself. So this year’s UK tour brought to us by the Sell-A-Door company (and directed by Cressida Carré) was to hit very close to home at Guildford’s GLive, giving me no excuse to miss it again. And I’m very glad I didn’t let it pass me by, for it turned out to be one of the best laugh-out-loud musicals I have ever seen.
Whilst very much a Sesame Street for grownups, the premise of Avenue Q is relatively simple – new guy turns up in the neighbourhood, trying to find his way, inevitably gets led astray (not least of all by the hysterical ‘Bad Idea Bears’), and slowly but surely becomes accepted and a part of the tight-knit bunch of misfits. With a mixture of musical genius (courtesy of Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx) which have you singing along as you skip out of the auditorium, cleverly simplistic set by Richard Evans, and fantastic puppetry, both actors and characters are in full view of their ever-attentive audience, and use this exposure to their highest advantage.
Princeton (Tom Steedon) is fresh out of university with a BA in English (ouch!!), and finds his way from Avenues A to P before finding affordable accommodation in good old Avenue Q. The girl next door is the surprisingly furry Kate Monster, played incredibly by Lucy-Mae Sumner. The innovation behind Avenue Q is not hiding that the puppets are puppets, and having the puppeteers in full view of everyone, whilst they too go through the emotions of their felt counter-parts. And Sumner was superb in portraying the innocent yet volatile Kate, as well as the saucy, and er… bouncy, Lucy the Slut, which highlighted not just great sex-appeal, but a phenomenal voice that I’m so pleased was duly accredited. Another encounter on the avenue was Trekkie Monster; reclusive, perverse, but somehow lovable oddball on the end of the row, who Stephen Arden had down to such a tee I was desperately trying to stay focused on everyone else.
With songs like “Everyone’s a (L)Rittle bit (R)Lacist” and “The Internet is for Porn”, this is most definitely an adults-only puppet show, but one which you’ll be dying to watch again and again. Relatable, memorable, and downright deplorable, Avenue Q is without a doubt a spectacle and a cheeky treat for everyone over the age of 18. See it, love it, and don’t tell the kids… or perhaps your parents.
For the latest tour dates, check out the Avenue Q UK Tour website.