Avenue Q may be a fictional street whose inhabitants are puppets, but it certainly isn't Sesame Street. With profanity, lewd jokes and even some puppet nudity, “Avenue Q” wears it's parental advisory like a badge of honor.
Courthouse Center for the Arts' production of “Avenue Q” is boldly going where no Rhode Island theater company has gone before, and the theater has staged a great little production of this musical.
Executive Artistic Director Richard Ericson partnered with Jon Paul Rainville to direct the show, which has never been produced in Rhode Island before.
The laugh out loud musical centers around Princeton, a new puppet on Avenue Q, and the people he meets while trying to find his purpose in life. With numbers like “It Sucks to be Me,” “The Internet is for Porn,” “If you Were Gay” and “Everyone's a Little Bit Racist,” it's easy to see where the show's modern humor (and it's warning label) stem from.
The scenery and costumes are very minimal, and there are no set changes. The feel of the production is similar to Courthouse's staged reading of “Pippin” from earlier in the season, but the cast does not use their scripts. The puppets were masterfully created by Nora Eschenheimer, but the production could have benefited from more time spent on puppetry.
The small ensemble of actors did a wonderful job bringing this TONY-award winning musical to life. Talia Triangalo, who was double-cast as leading ladies Kate Monster and Lucy, did a beautiful job serenading the audience with the show's most melodic numbers as Kate, while also getting to show off her strong soulful tones as Lucy.
Other standouts were Ashley Kelley as Gary Coleman and Lynn Craig as Christmas Eve, who both showed off their powerful voices on their solos. Gianni Vento and Kaitlyn Rosen were very funny as a pair of “Bad Idea Bears,” and Andrew Jones sent the audience into fits of laughter as Trekkie Monster.
The only disappointments came from the double-casting of major roles like Princeton and Rod, who were both played by puppeteer Aaron Lathrop, and Kate Monster and Lucy. The double-casting led to some awkward scenes where actors shared dialogue with themselves, and it often broke the suspension of disbelief.
Otherwise, "Avenue Q" is a fun time. The band, led by Lila Kane, sounded wonderful with the crisp harmonies delivered by the cast, and the laughter continued throughout. If you're looking for a brave piece of new musical comedy, this is your show.
“Avenue Q” runs until March 4 at Courthouse Center for the Arts, 3481 Kingstown Road, West Kingston, R.I. Tickets can be purchased by calling 782-1018 or online at www.courthousearts.org.