Thursday, January 19, 2012

Review: (Toronto) Avenue Q

(from left to right): Mark Willett as Brian, Amelia Hironaka as Christmas Eve, Adam Norrad with Rod,  Adam Proulx with Princeton, Phil Skala and Shannon Dickens with Nicky, Jazz Testoline as Gary Coleman, Kira Hall with Kate Monster (Photo credit: Seanna Kennedy Photography)

Crucial life lessons from cynical puppets on Avenue Q
Today’s review has been brought to you by the letters E and C
by Émilie Charlebois

I have now seen Avenue Q twice and I would most definitely continue to see it, again, and again and again. My first time was during a trip to NYC with friends determined to catch a Broadway show, and Avenue Q was the only one (off Broadway) we could afford. I already had a good feeling due to my not-so-secret love of the Muppets, but was completely blown away by the production. Although I already knew what jokes and gags to expect this time around, the cast at the Lower Ossington Theatre still had me mesmerized and fully entertained from beginning to end.  I remembered how much I enjoyed it, but last night’s performance reminded me how a-m-a-z-i-n-g it is! 

LOT performed with flawless enthusiasm, skill and energy

I suppose it’s hard to go wrong with a script as witty and fun as Avenue Q’s, but when having to act and manipulate puppets all at once, I can only imagine how wrong things can go. However, aside from some very minor opening night glitches (e.g. background music that slightly overpowered the actors’ voices, mic static, some transitions lacking smoothness), LOT performed with flawless enthusiasm, skill and energy (I suspect these so-called glitches went completely unnoticed to anyone not scrupulously judging the performance for their review).

For those who may not already know, Avenue Q is basically Sesame Street for adults. Everyone discovers that they’re not as special as they may have been brought up to believe, finding a life purpose is pretty well hopeless, paying bills sucks, being happy is temporary and making bad decisions are a thing of everyday life (with a little help from the “Bad Idea Bears”). But despite their sarcasm and pessimistic outlook, the Avenue Q gang carry on a delightfully optimistic tune and manage to help each other out…most of the time. And in song no less! “Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist,” “The Internet is For Porn,” “If You Were Gay” and so on, will get stuck in your head (in a good way) and make you feel just a little bit better about being just as broke and ordinary as everyone else, or help remind you that as much as your life sucks, someone else is worse off then you!

What was especially great for someone who has already seen the show performed elsewhere, were the uniquely Toronto touches that LOT brought to the piece. They successfully added character to something that is already irresistibly charming. And for those who may be wary of musicals, Avenue Q may not necessarily change the way you feel about the genre, but if there is one musical to see in your life without regret, it’s this one. 

So if you’re looking for guaranteed laughs, a dose of reality mixed with a sense of childlike wonder and raunchy puppet sex, head on down to Avenue Q!

1 comment:

  1. I completely agree! The show was incredible! I wish more people knew about this theatre - I've now seen Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat (also amazing) and Avenue Q and the shows were so very enjoyable.


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