Avenue Q

Avenue Q Opening Date: March 2003
Production: Off-Broadway
Director/choreographer: Jason Moore
Book by: Jeff Whitty
Music/Lyrics by: Robert Lopez, Jeff Marx
Starring: Jonathan Root, Nicholas Kohn, Sarah Stilles

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Avenue Q is an innovative and hilarious musical that follows recent college grad Princeton as he moves into a new apartment in New York City and meets many colorful types who help him figure out his purpose in life. A parody of Sesame Street, it involves puppets interacting with human characters and animated clips.

This musical was frighteningly relevant to my life. I mean, come on, it opens with a number called “What Do You Do with a B.A. in English?” Princeton was very easy to relate to, and despite all the silly nature of many songs, his trials and tribulations were very genuine. Since all the characters kinda represented a different types of people, all their interactions with him felt very real. The story does a fantastic job of countering Sesame Street’s lessons about being unique and invincible and being able to do anything — and without being overly cynical, too. And it manages to balance that depth with complete and utter hilarity. Most memorably hilarious, of course, are its unapologetic songs that had the audience roaring with laughter with each line. I actually knew most of the songs going in, but getting to see it sung on stage was totally worth it.

And seriously, this is the musical equivalent of creative narration. The puppeteers are very much visible on the stage but remain invisible to the storyline, and many of the puppeteers serve as the voices for more than one character. They came up with great ways to cover this fact up, too, especially with choreography and lighting.

Covering an enormous range of social issues, Avenue Q is blatantly preachy about it — and the best part is that this totally works because of its narrative style.

The Verdict

Unapologetic, hilarious, catchy, and filled with a dozen great lessons, this is an absolute must-see.