I am a huge fan of this musical. Since its West End premiere in 2006, this show has made itself
known across the UK as something different and something worth seeing. The cleverly-constructed songs, hilarious script and overall structure made Avenue Q one of those shows that audience members would always consider revisiting. The slightly silly (and descriptively adult) humour added to the charm of the show but never took focus from its heart or characters. I have seen a fair few productions of this musical, amateur and professional, and because of the strength of the material, it has never been a disappointing evening. However, Sell A Door’s production doesn’t quite cut it for me.
Avenue Q is based on a fictional slum street outside of New York where positive puppet Princeton (Richard Lowe) moves in hoping to start his adult life and find his ‘purpose’. His neighbours, Brian (Richard Morse) and his Japanese wife Christmas Eve (Arina II), super-intendant Gary Coleman (Etisyai Philip) as well as fellow puppets Rod (Lowe, again) and Nicky (Stephen Arden) try to help him through the difficulties of growing up whilst dealing with issues of their own. Issues such as racism, sex, money, homosexuality, porn and love. Princeton begins a relationship with monster puppet, Kate Monster (Sarah Harlington) but soon worries that his love-life is getting in the way of finding his purpose.
The majority of the cast multi-role with various puppets and adapt their voices accordingly. Unfortunately, words and phrases get lost through a collective lack of vocal power and a fair few strong jokes are missed by the audience due to this. The singing is noticeably stronger though finds itself slightly overpowered by the band due to levels with the microphones and sounds.
Sarah Harlington stands out as Kate Monster / Lucy the Slut, bringing great charisma and humour to both her roles. Another strong cast member is Stephen Arden, whose Nicky and Trekkie Monster provide majority of the evening’s big laughs.
Direction unfortunately seems minimal leaving the characters and some scenes looking slightly unpolished in areas and is the main reason why the show never really hits its comic potential. This being said, the audience remained entertained throughout and it never did feel that the production lost any momentum. I do, however, credit this to the script and the work put to the show a decade ago. The music is close to faultless and Avenue Q manages to bring a strong, relatable storyline whilst still upholding humour and impressive silliness that no other show can match. The right production can make this an all round five-star show, no problem. This production is completely capable of that but just didn’t hit the mark for me tonight.
The show is a definite must watch for anyone who hasn’t seen it before – it may be a fair while ’til the opportunity comes again. Though, fans of the show, who have seen the original, should probably expect a nice reminiscence of your last experience more than a fresh, revitalised take on this puppet-madness.
Review by Tomm Ingram
Following five years in the West End and sell-out runs worldwide (packed with mischief, bad behaviour and political incorrectness) this hugely entertaining show is hitting the road on a brand new tour!
Created by Jeff Marx and Robert Lopez (co-creator of Book of Mormon and writer of the songs for Disney’s Frozen) Avenue Q is an irresistibly charming musical which tells the story of the loveable characters on a downtown New York street trying to make sense of life’s burning issues.
Hilarious, cheeky and uproariously entertaining, with a terrific batch of songs performed by a cast of hugely talented performers and puppets, Avenue Q is the musical like no other.
So don’t let your life suck – book your tickets today!
Suitable for audiences 14+
Wednesday 9th to Saturday 12th September 2015
Wednesday 9th September 2015