avenure q cast

Avenue Q

The Alexandra Theatre


In the entertainment world puppets have always given their operators the freedom to act irresponsibly. After all it’s not the person controlling them, but the puppet, is it not?

The international success of acts like ventriloquist Jeff Dunham have taken them to their maximum shock potential and proved they can get away with almost anything in this woke era.

In a similar way Avenue Q has gently pushed the decency envelope, but in a totally unique way. The originators Jeff Marx and Bobby Lopez pitched the idea of an adult Muppet show to Jim Henson without success.

Undeterred the duo created a small theatre revue which caught the attention of the producers of Rent. They clearly thought it would succeed as a musical and in 2002 the show opened off Broadway and by 2004 had earned itself a collection of prestigious theatre awards.

Avenue Q is unique as there is no attempt to hide the puppet operators. The beauty of this is that you get a choice of puppet or actor to watch and the result is magnificent. This current UK tour is directed and choreographed by Cressida Carré and revels in its ability to be completely non-correct and open in this very adult and sometimes sexually explicit story.

To make any of this work requires the skills of a highly talented cast both to operate and perform the voices for their characters, whilst also visually being in plain view. Cecily Redman, Lawrence Smith, Tom Steedon and Megan Armstrong are the central team who play a host of puppet characters.

It all takes place in a rundown neighbourhood in New York on a street called Avenue Q. A young man Princeton arrives there and forms a romance with Kate Monster. Next door lives Christmas Eve and Brian played by Saori Oda and Oliver Stanley as their real life selves. On the other side of Princeton’s apartment is the sex crazed, self-pleasuring Trekkie monster.



Trekkie Monster, with his own view on the purpose of the internet

Tempting our lovebirds into all kinds rude positions are the Bad Idea bears. Adding to the fun is real life Gary Coleman played by Nicholas Mclean who skips around the proceedings like a ubiquitous children’s TV presenter.

The expertise in puppetry and sheer stage talent to deliver this complex production is first class. The vocal work of Redman and Smith alone is stunning and you find yourself watching them more than the puppets as you go on.  Their comical timing in the song You Can Be As Loud As You Like (When You’re Makin’ Love) is flawless and the vocal work of all the cast to produce a range of voices is uncanny.

With fantastic songs like If you were gay, The internet is for porn and I’m Not wearing any underwear today, you do not have to think too hard about the kind of content the show contains. However this show might be racy but it’s never crude and with the innocence of the puppets delivering the material how can you be offended anyway?

Avenue Q is also poignant love story and that’s achieved by in the end knowing it’s the real people who are making it all work. In this pressure cooker world of overblown political correctness Avenue Q is a timely, funny and very welcome release. To 16-02-19

Jeff Grant


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