Laughter abounded from the large audience opening night at Players Club of Swarthmore for AVENUE Q, directed by Joseph P. Southard. The laughter rose in pitch with the musical number “It Sucks To Be Me”, the melody of which reminds one of a Sesame Street tune, with lyrics gone hilariously wrong. Incorrectness of the political type is abundant in the show, as producer, Claudia Carlsson (also seen in the show as the sexy Lucy T. Slut) points out with multiple pre-curtain apologies.
This show is not for children. It is a satirically funny, irreverent and refreshingly honest look at life after college which includes some substance abuse, sex (sometimes in that order), a selection of naughty words from A-Z, race, relationship and money issues, and the search for life’s meaning. Princeton (fabulously done by Chad Parsons), a recent college graduate armed with optimism and a B.A. in English, moves into an apartment in a New York neighborhood where he meets the quirky residents of AVENUE Q, who help him to learn things he wasn’t taught in school, and guide him towards the path of progress to finding his purpose in life. Princeton also learns about love along the way.
It is wonderful to watch as the cast imbue their puppets with human feelings via voice and physicality; especially as the Puppeteers perform perfectly in sync with their puppets during song and dance numbers. Princeton and main love interest, Katie Monster (given a wry wit and endearing air by Kim Albright) build glorious romantic tension during their duet “Mix Tape” and appear to be well paired throughout the show.
Also paired well are Christmas Eve (‘sprendidry’ played by Krystal Grace Marshall), a failing counselor who delivers the musical missive “The more you love someone, the more you wishing him dead… And wanting baseball bat for hitting him on his head…” in reference to her over-thirty, failed comedian husband, Brian (quite successfully delivered by John Bucci), as well as roommates Nicky, a parody of Sesame Street’s Ernie (cutely executed by John Castertano) and Rod, who is tightly wound and still in the closet (deftly done by Timothy J. Koob).
Twisted, prone to porn, Trekkie Monster (terrifically done to a T by Jim Fryer), Gary Coleman (shining performance by Sean Murray) and Lucy T. Slut (Go Claudia Carlsson!) round out the cast, in addition to the Bad Idea Bears (great work by Amanda W. Panrock and Darrin Peters) who totally tempted all to lots of laughter. Great energy is given by the actors who play Puppeteer/Nicky’s Hand (Rachel Morgan-Wall) and Trekkie’s Hand/Ricky/Newcomer (Randino Del Rosario). The cast, orchestra and crew combine to create a consistency of quality that is delightful to behold from beginning to end!
Energy and enthusiasm issued forth from the Pit Orchestra (Richard Lewis, Music Director/Piano/Conductor; Elise Sun, Keys; J.P. Feestra, Drums; Felix Cohen, Bass; Mark Urmson, Reed; Sean Sheehan, Guitar), who not only played wonderfully, but seemed to be having fun as well.
An obvious amount of clever effort went into the making of the outstanding and versatile set (Jolene Petrowski), multi-media and lighting, as well as sound (Davida Weiler-Stone), and costuming (Betsy Berwick Reba Ferdman, Dot Kowal, Cindy Schneeman and Randino Del Rosario); The puppetry is superb (Rachel Morgan-Wall, cast).
Make your way, sans children, to see AVENUE Q for some toe tapping fun, ’cause as they say in the production, “Except for death and paying taxes, everything in life is only for now…”; catch this spectacular show now while it’s going on at PCS!
NOTE: During the musical number “The Money Song” AVENUE Q’s characters demonstrate the lesson “…Giving is even better than receiving” while collecting donations for The American Cancer Society.
Book by Jeff Whitty
Music by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx
Directed by Joseph P. Southard
October 25 – November 9, 2013
Players Club of Swarthmore’s Mainstage
614 Fairview Avenue
Swarthmore, PA 19081