by Jahnesha Huertas
Sex. Love. Racism. A dwindling economy. Life after graduation, suddenly realizing that four years of college tuition has gotten you nowhere. These are just a few topics explored in the musical Avenue Q. Not exactly what first comes to mind in a play that features various muppet-like puppets and a Sesame Street-like set.
Princeton has just arrived to Avenue Q after graduating college, and while looking for an apartment and a job, he realizes that he also must find his purpose. He is determined not to just get by in life, but instead embark on something that he feels passionate about. He meets Kate Monster, who is on a mission to establish a school to build the self-esteem of monsters every where. They begin a whirl-wind romance jaded by a harlot of a blues singer and two “bad news bears”.
Meanwhile, the other residents of Avenue Q have their own problems to deal with. Christmas Eve and Brian prepare for marriage, Gary Coleman ponders his failure as a celebrity and what used to be of his fortune and Rod and Nicky (think Bert and Ernie) hit a snag in their friendship. I was expecting to see a plethora of puppets attached to strings controlled by puppeteers lurking unseen in the shadow, but to my surprise, the actors onstage acted as puppeteers. Some of them played more then one character when both puppets where onstage and their ability to change characters instantly really showcased their talent. For instance, Carey Anderson’s sweet Kate Monster was miles away from her portrayal of saucy singer Lucy the Slut. The actors dressed in dark colors to contrast with the brightness of the puppets and the set. This definitely made it easier to forget that the actors were there and put the focus on the puppets. The multiracial cast was refreshing to see as it modeled a realistic New York setting.
Avenue Q was unexpectedly touching. With a humorous plot, it allowed the audience to connect with their inner-child while answering some grown-up questions about life, friendship and love in our fast paced lives.