Arts Club Theatre Company
Avenue Q
Music and lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, Book by Jeff Whitty

Dates and Venue 4 October 2014 – 3 January 2015, Mon – Sat 8pm (matinees on Sat & Wed 2pm) | Various venues around the Lower Mainland

Director Peter Jorgensen Costume Design Jessica Bayntun Set Design Marshall McMahen Lighting Design Ted Roberts Sound Design Andrew Tugwell Musical Director Sean Bayntun Stage Manager Louis-Marie Bournival

Reviewer Ed Farolan

Opening night at the Surrey Arts Centre last October 15th was a riot. The audience laughed in disbelief at the X-rated use of four letter words, and to boot, Sesame-like Street puppets in the act of sexual intercourse! And that's precisely what this show is all about: it's the muppet show adult-style.

Perusing over the programme notes, the original concept by Robert Lopez, a Yale graduate (BA English) is reflected in the main muppet character, Princeton, who has a BA in English but can't find a job. He sings the opening number “What do you do with a B.A. in English?” revealing his low expectations about job prospects.

With the use of multi-media screens above the stage, with images such as the word "purpose" which turns to "propose", he looks for a purpose in life, a job and love And indeed, like Princeton, Lopez finds his purpose in life by writing this musical which had a long run in Broadway where it won three Tony Awards. While in New York City, he finds kinship with an assortment of misfits in the multicultural Avenue Q, the only neighbourhood where he can afford to live.

The talented cast are not only puppeteers, but are fine actors and singers. and are as colourful as the language they use, acting out this musical satire which focuses attention on the realities many young people face: underemployment, racism, homelessness and sexual preferences. Among the four visible puppeteers, Jeremy Crittenden alternates playing both Princeton and Rod and does a great job switching from one voice to the other. Kayla Dunbar brings to life both Kate Monster and Lucy, providing unique voices for both..

Ovation awardee Nick Fontaine (Nicky/Trekkie Monster/Bad Idea Bear) does a remarkable performance throwing in three different voices to these three muppets. Jeny Cassady (Bad Idea Bear/Mrs. Thistlewat) did a marvelous job, especially as Thistlewat. In addition to these nine hand-made characters that require manipulation, there are three cast members who are able to speak and move on their own. Selina Wong got the audience continuously laughing with her role as Asian-American Christmas Eve who speaks with comical fractured English. Her rendition of “The More you Ruv Someone” is funny to the nth degree. Local actor Andy Toth is Eve’s fiancé Brian, an unemployed wannabe comedian. Evangelia Kambites plays the role of icon Gary Coleman (RIP) and did a superb job.

The band composed of John Bews (Bass), David Sikula (Guitar) and Niko Friesen (Drums) did a terrific job accompanying the singers.

Kudos to Director Jorgensen and the production staff for an entertaining must-see show which is currently touring the Lower Manland and some cities in BC. Click on for tour dates and venues.

© 2014 Ed Farolan