Cast: Matthew J. Henry, Katherine Moraz, Daniella Gibb, Edward Judge, Luke Striffler, Sam Lupton, Julie Yammanee.
Somewhere in another universe the inhabitants of Sesame Street are either so shocked that they have put the Cookie Monster in to rehab at the very thought or better still kicking themselves, if they had legs, that they never did anything like this sooner. For every adult that loved Kermit the Frog when they were children, Avenue Q has everything you could wish for in a theatre production, just that ever so slightly on the right side of rude and certainly more life affirming.
Avenue Q is certainly not for the very easily offended, however the show has one important ingredient in it that overrides any suffering the few will have as they spit foam and that is it’s incredibly, amazingly and utterly brilliant and the message of hope that comes out very loud and clear will resonate and leave you not just grinning at the image of what you have seen but honestly glad to be alive.
From the opening number, What Do You Do with a B.A. in English? which would have had every student of English nodding with amused guilt and glee, the story of the residence of Avenue Q, from Kate Monster, Lucy the Slut, Treckie Monster, Princeton and their human neighbours including a rather tall Gary Coleman, portrayed by the endearing Matthew J. Henry, touched the hearts of everybody within the Empire Theatre. It may not be a perfect world but the songs and action of the puppeteers, including the wonderful Katherine Moraz whose voice would light up a room in seconds and Sam Lupton as the hero of the story Princeton, were nothing short of sensational and inspired.
It takes a particular type of acting ability to be able to look past the actor and focus squarely on the puppet on stage. Few can master this talent and make it truly believable but in the entire cast of Avenue Q, they not only succeeded but made you fall in love with every single last one of them.
There can be no doubt that Avenue Q, with its hard hitting array of excellent and well observed if somewhat in one case disturbing songs, including If You Were Gay, Everybody is a Llittle Bit Racist and I Wish I Could Go Back To College, will long be remembered for brightening up a summer’s evening.
Ian D. Hall