Avenue Q gets four stars for opening weekend performances

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The cast of Avenue Q on opening weekend. Courtesy of CSUN Theatre Department

With Sesame Street-like animations and fuzzy puppet characters, Avenue Q has all the makings of a children’s show. But don’t let the puppets fool you: These cute little characters can get pretty vulgar. And audiences will love it.

The show revolves around the lives of the tenants of Avenue Q, while they deal with their jobs, money problems, and their relationships, while poking fun at things like racism (“Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist”) and the Internet (“The Internet is for Porn” which is hilariously growled by Danny Guerrero’s Trekkie Monster).

Princeton (played by graduating senior Bobby Avila) is a fresh-faced college graduate who just moved in, and is obsessed with finding his purpose in life. He asks the question that many students today wonder: “What do you do with a B.A. in English?” Avila’s Princeton is relatable and human, despite being made of felt.

Next door to Princeton is the lovely Kate Monster, who is expertly brought to life by junior Lauren Tyni. Kate’s dream is to open a school exclusively for other creatures of fur, like herself. In the meantime, she works as a kindergarten assistant and just hopes to find a boyfriend. Tyni’s voice is astounding, and her rendition of the ballad “There’s a Fine, Fine Line,” is heartbreakingly powerful.

Contrasting Kate Monster’s sweetness is the vixen Lucy the Slut (played by the sultry yet funny Brook Van Grinsven). Given her title, it’s clear that Lucy is…popular around town. And from the moment she slinks on stage singing “Special,” it’s clear she’s trouble.

Up the street are Rod the OCD, closeted investment banker (played in a wonderfully nasally voice by David Acala), and his slacker roommate Nicky (Alex Tordi). Their chemistry is hilarious and almost brotherly, as they perform “If You Were Gay,” and Nicky begs Rod to come out and be himself, while Rod ardently denies it.

But it’s not all about the puppets! The supporting cast of humans’ interactions with the puppet characters create a hilarious chemistry. Christmas Eve (wonderfully played by Grace Yoo) is a bossy therapist from Japan whose broken English and attitude is a joke itself, and is highlighted in her funny yet true solo “The More You Ruv Someone.” Her uptight ways are contrasted by her laidback husband Brian (portrayed by Nick Popham) whose dream is to be a famous comedian, even though he hasn’t figured out any punchlines yet. And then there’s the super, Gary Coleman (yes, that one) played by Alyssa Smith, who makes cracks about being broke and a former child star.

While the whole cast did an amazing and humorous job, the show is easily stolen by the cutest characters on the stage: the Bad Idea Bears, played by Danny Guerrero and Amanda Godepski. These adorable little critters pop up at the worst moments, and whisper in Princeton’s ear, telling him to buy that case of beer (“You’re saving money in the long run!”) or to relax a little longer before finding a job. Their high-pitched voices and extensive amounts of giggling will get you to do just about anything.

However, no show is without its faults. At times the puppeteering seems amateurish and off-track. Occasionally the actors forgot that the puppets themselves were supposed to be the center of attention, not themselves. Despite this and a few technical difficulties with the microphones, the cast still puts on a hysterical show.

Avenue Q delights with its real-world charm and honesty. It talks about the struggles of post-college life, and teaches lessons in a hilarious and unforgettable way that’s sure to tickle audiences.


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