BY TERRY SCHMIDA
Oh, the travails of early adulthood . . .
The battle to make sense of a world of confusing relationships and declining opportunities has been the stuff of novels, songs and now theatrical productions, at least since Douglas Coupland published Generation X, back in ’91.
But it’s even harder to face up to a melancholy reality if you’re a reclusive millionaire porn-hound monster, a closeted gay puppet, or a down-on-his luck child star, living on Avenue Q, now playing at the Waterfront Playhouse.
It would be facile to consider Avenue Q as merely a ‘Sesame Street for adults,’ but there’s definitely parallels between some of the characters, the setting, and the underlying message of trying to make the best you can of your situation, one day at a time.
Avenue Q is a low-rent district in Outer Boroughs New York, where residents struggle with the age old themes of love, and hope, and sex, and dreams; as well as racism, homelessness, homosexuality, and even fake news.
Princeton, played by Brian Hall, moves into the neighborhood, hoping to find his ‘purpose’ in life, and spread further the remittance checks he receives from his parents. Upon his arrival Princeton encounters an array of human and puppet characters, all dealing with the age-old problems of the human condition in their own way.
There’s Kate Monster (Kristen Michelle) the sweet teachers assistant who longs for permanent love and dreams of opening a school especially for her own kind, i.e. monsters.
Gary Coleman, played by Juanita B. Green is the building superintendent who looks back on his life as an actor on Diff’rent Strokes, still wondering if his best days are behind him.
Then there’s Rod (Hall) and Nicky (Jeremy Zoma) two ostensibly straight puppets, (bearing an uncanny resemblance to Ernie and Bert), whose living situation is complicated by sexual tension you could cut with a knife.
Interracial couple Christmas Eve (Lora Nicholas) and Brian (Justin Ahearn) seem to have the easiest time of them all, though Brian’s casual racism and bad jokes leave his fiancée cold and ready to kill him with a baseball bat at times.
Rounding out this madcap group are the Trekkie Monster (Zoma), Michelle’s Lucy the Slut (who’s big on Big Coppitt Key), and a pair of cutesy bears (Zoma, Susannah Wells) who show up occasionally to promote bad ideas such as binge drinking, irresponsible sex, and even suicide.
But this is a mostly heartwarming tale of true love reconciled to imperfection, dreams pursued and achieved, and understanding between people of varying races, sexual preferences, and points of view; where neighbors lend each other a helping hand in the name of the greater good.
Flawless directing from Danny Weathers, choreography by Penny Leto, and musical direction by Michael Fauss and his band make this production a timely piece of feel-good theater that long on laughs and short on tragedy. The somewhat salty language (and 10 minute puppet sex scene) is not be for all ages, but you’d be a fool not to head on down to where everything’s A-OK. I can tell you how to get, how to get to . . .Avenue Q.
Avenue Q now playing at the Waterfront Playhouse on Mallory Square runs from March 29 through April 14. Call 305 294-5015 or visit WaterfrontPlayhouse.org. Adult language, situations and puppet sex make this play unsuitable for children.
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