Friday, October 23, 2009
As you may know (if you read my last post), I attended a performance of Avenue Q on Tuesday night at Providence Performing Arts Center (PPAC). Avenue Q was the second show in the 2009-2010 season and I didn't really know too much about it. I knew that it involved Sesame Street style puppets, but that it was definitely NOT for kids. I will be honest and admit that this was not a show that I was overly excited to see. But, I was pleasantly surprised and I really did enjoy it. Did I LOVE it? No. But I it was very enjoyable. If someone was thinking about seeing it, I would encourage them to do it. But it's not a show that I will be recommending that everyone see.
Avenue Q takes place in a lower income neighborhood in Manhattan. Princeton, a recent college grad (with a degree in English), moves onto Avenue Q to begin his "adult" life. On Avenue Q he meets other people who are just starting out in life and are trying to navigate the grown up world. The show deals with adult themes in a light and humorous way - Internet porn, homosexuality, finding love, finding purpose. All these topics are handled in a Sesame Street like format and set. The songs were very upbeat, happy and funny.
From the reviews I've read and from talking to Margaret, my friend who attended the show with me, it seems that most people find themselves focusing their attention on the puppets and are able to quickly overlook the fact that the puppeteers are on stage. This was not my experience. I found myself having to force myself to pay attention to the puppets. My eyes and attention were were drawn to the actors. Not sure why that is, but I think it's a personality thing. I'm not very good at suspending my disbelief. I'm that annoying person at the movies who keeps pointing out all the holes in the plot. (Yes, I'm THAT girl). In any case, this did not detract from my enjoyment of the show in any way. It's just something I've noticed as I've read other reviews of this show.
Because this show is "acted" by puppets and the puppeteers are fairly unobtrusive, it's hard for me to really critique the actor/puppeteers. Unlike most shows, in this show no one actor stood out from the others. No one had a super amazing voice. I did notice when I read the playbill that the vast majority of the actors did not have any prior experience on Broadway, which is very unusual. Maybe the very nature of the "acting" makes Avenue Q a "breakout" roll for these actors. Not really sure about that. I will say this, all the actors were very talented puppeteers. Some even played more than one puppet, which was difficult for me since I was focusing on the people and not the puppets. Sometimes I was a little confused by that. There were even times when the actor who primarily played one puppet would hand that puppet off to another actor and suddenly play another puppet who was on the stage at the same time. This actor would also do both voices. OK, that got a little tough for someone like me who can't suspend her disbelief very easily. But, not enough to make me stop enjoying the show. It was just something I noticed.
After seeing (half of) Young Frankenstein and now Avenue Q this season, I realized something. Having season's tickets is like being in a book club. You will most likely see shows/read books that you would not normally have seen/read. And sometimes there will be shows/books you don't like. But sometimes you will be pleasantly surprised. And THAT is really exciting. At least for me it is.
Image from Google Images