“Avenue Q” a Puppet Musical for Searching Minds
By Skip Sheffield
“The Muppets” were never like this. “Avenue Q,” a very funny show that plays through Sunday Nov. 20 at Broward Center for the Arts, has distinctly Muppet-like puppets and an urban setting much like the beloved PBS show “Sesame Street,” but Muppets never talked or acted like these puppets, created by Rick Pena for Slow Burn Theatre Company when the show was produced at West Boca Raton High School in 2012. Pena not only designed the puppets and costumes, he plays two principal roles: the lead of Princeton, a recent 22-year old college graduate whose song lament is “It Sucks To Be Me,” and Rod, a conservative young man who makes a discovery about his desires and sexuality while searching for his “Purpose.”
Nicole Piro was also in the Boca production, and she is better than ever, playing Kate Monster, Lucy the Slut, and others.
Another Boca veteran is Christian Vandepas, who plays Princeton’s roommate Nicky and manipulates half of Trekkie Monster, while providing the hilarious gruff voice of a porn addict.
Ann Marie Olson was also a veteran of the Boca production. While she doesn’t look the slightest bit Asian as Christmas Eve, she has a killer voice which powers the ballad “When You Ruv Someone.”
Newcomers are elfin Lissa Grossman Comess who plays multiple characters, including half of Trekkie Monster, one of the Bad Ideas Bears and burned-out educator, Mrs. Thistletwat.
Andrew Rodriguez-Triana is the sad sack failing comedian and boyfriend of Christmas Eve.
Then there is little Juanita B. Green as Gary Coleman, the washed-up child TV star- turned building superintendent, who really runs with the role.
This time the catchy music by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx is recorded by Manny Schvartzman, but the cast is so well rehearsed by director-choreographer Patrick Fitzwater, the loss of live music is hardly felt.
“Avenue Q” is going on the road to Aventura Dec. 1-4 and the Crest Theatre in Delray Beach Dec.16-18. Bring an open mind and enjoy the angst of a gang who “Wish I Could Go Back to College.”
Tickets are $45. Call 954-462-0222 for the Broward production or 561-243-7922, ext. 1 for Delray Beach.