Ever wondered what Sesame Street would be like if grover was openly gay? Or if Big Bird had an obsession with internet based adult only ‘literature’? What if Elmo excitedly suggested people hang themselves after getting obliterated on cocktails – you know, with that excited cheer of his? Well , look no further, Avenue Q is all these things an so much more!
We visited the Hippodrome again last night to watch this amazing musical. When attempting to explain to others what exactly it was we watched, only one description possibly comes to mind; X-rated muppet show set to music. If you are not a fan of full puppet nudity or coarse language, then give it a miss, but if you do not easily blush and like a really good giggle of an evening, you should really catch this show while it is touring.
It tells a fairly simple story of relationships between neighbours in a small corner of New York. But what is so very different about this musical is that the amazingly talented singers and actors are also puppeteers. It may seem strange to watch puppeteers walking, talking and singing next to their glove like counterparts, but how they morph together and become one is almost seemless. Before long you forget to even notice the actors and focus simply on the colourful characters and their slightly tawdry existence. However, when you do notice the handlers you are wowed beyond belief at their synchronicity. They may be trained to sing and dance but the timing and execution of their puppeteer skills are phenomenal.
The song list is a little on the blue side in places, but I have found as clean a YouTube clip as I can for you at the end of the post (plus a genuinely heartfelt one). With songs tackling ‘issues’ such as homelessness, loud sex, being gay (closeted or otherwise), racism (Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist), porn, taking pleasure in other’s pain (Schadenfruede), and of course that old friend, love lost and won; there is a little something for everyone!Very cynical but done in that over the top children’s channel cheese this is a remarkable piece of work and there is little wonder how this was one of Broadway’s biggest ever hits. It was made even more entertaining by the ooos, ahhhs and awwwws from the secondary school trip sat just to our side.
Each character, whether human, puppet or monster, is perfectly flawed and honest in nature – hell, one of the characters is called ‘Lucy the Slut’! Kate Monster and Princeton are terribly cute and hold the cast together well (their controllers were utterly superb) but I think my favourites were the Bad News Bears. These two bright eyed, bushy-tailed, sweeter than sugar teddy bears are pretty much the harbingers of doom! They appear when you least need them to, to sow seeds of doubt and bad behaviour into the already over-complicated mess that is life. And yes, they do appear on stage at one point with a noose for one down and out neighbour. They had me in stitches. Their over-excited cheering at ‘bad things’ was very ominous but could not but help put life into a little better perspective.
Bonkers is certainly the word. It is over the top and silly – take all the adult humour out of it and the show would just be highly irritating cheesy goop. Oh, and if slightly sweary, lightly crass cuties are not enough for you, they even throw in a spoof of Gary Coleman, child star of Diff’rent Strokes. Watch the clips below and if you are even the slightest bit tickled by what you see, then get over to YouTube and watch the really good stuff! The get onto your local theatre and book an amazingly juvenile night!