I know you've been waiting for it... and had I read my season tickets correctly I would have had this review published LAST Wednesday, but alas, I'm an idiot and looked at my calendar, not realizing my tickets actually said the week before. Alas, all worked out and I still did see the show. Did I mention I'm an idiot? That said...
What a show! Avenue Q is Sesame Street for those entering the real world. In fact, the writers of the show claim to have meant it to be a homage to Jim Henson and Sesame Street, though they specifically disclaim any connection to either. The parallels, however, are abundant and hilarious. The integration of puppets and real-life characters is seamless, though in this case no effort whatsoever is made to hide the puppeteers. In fact, the puppeteers are simply extensions of the puppet characters.
There are certainly some risque scenes, and certainly the majority of which you'd never find broadcast on PBS. But what really takes this show over the top is the music.
It's rather disappointing that by far the most popular song in this musical is the cultural-crossover blockbuster "The Internet Is For Porn," as this sorely discounts some of the more poignant themes and outstanding lyrics in several other songs. Certainly "Everyone's A Little Bit Racist" really encapsulates the current generation's frustration with the epidemic of political correctness of society today.
Additionally, I thought the song "I Wish I Could Go Back To College" is probably one of the most brilliant songs in the show, and solidly demonstrates the writers' connection to basically anyone who went to college in the past 10 years. With references such as "Sitting in the computer lab / 4 A.M. before the final paper is due / Cursing the world that I didn't start sooner / And seeing the rest of the class there, too!" and "I wanna go back to my room and find a message in dry-erase pen on the door!" it's a certainty that any recent undergrads need to see this show, if only to wax nostalgic. Sadly, I can only assume that this show will eventually date itself and become a cultural relic of Generation X.
What's probably most amazing is that the entire cast consists of just 7 actors, 3 of which are purely human characters, and 4 puppeteers who seamlessly perform, voice, and constantly hand-off about a dozen puppet characters. To discount the skill and coordination to required to do this as they do would be impossible.
It's refreshing to see a musical that avoids the cliche of a cast of under-educated youth struggling to survive in a horrible, drug-filled world, and instead focuses on the difficulties and struggles undertaken by college-educated folks entering the real world of today.
As for the ratings:
Script: 4-stars. A brilliant overall concept, though bowed a bit too the cheap laughs at points. Cast: 5-stars, simply brilliant puppeteer/actors.
Music: 5-stars, every song worth listening to. A must-have soundtrack.
Technical: 4-stars, no gimmicks necessary with the rest of the supporting pieces.
Overall: 5-stars. See this everytime it comes to town. In my case, next time it's in town I'll be putting a group together to go see it.