Monday, December 28, 2015

Ave. Q at Paper Wing Theatre

The problem with writing about the same show three times over the course of the past five years is that it’s very hard to not repeat yourself. This is especially true when several of the performers from the previous performances return for another run, though some in vastly different roles than before. As I can’t be certain people have read my previous thoughts on the previous runs of the Avenue Q, I can’t take for granted that the reader is going to be familiar with the plot- Which is as follows: Princeton (the returning Nicholas Kelly) is a fresh-faced puppet straight out of college who is in for a rude awakening when he enters the “real world” and it’s mundane hurdles of paying rent, finding a job, random encounters and a string of poor decisions that come with growing up. All of this is told in the same style of a Sesame Street-type show that’s geared toward facing much more adult scenarios that include sex, racism, employment, and the day to day lives of those who live on Avenue Q.

But for those readers who have seen my previous thoughts on the show, much of what I’ll be writing will be a rehash of some familiar thoughts on the show. The songs are catchy, the band is solid, and returning players Kelly and Jay Devine (as “Ernie-like” puppet, Nicky) are solid and as inspired as the first two go-rounds. Also returning for another go-round are two of the traditionally “human” characters, Kate Faber as Asian American therapist Christmas Eve; and Jared Hussey as her 33 year old struggling comic and lay about, Brian. Everything I’ve said about them both is just as true today as it was a few years ago… for those who don’t remember,  said they were awesome and other stuff like that.

And, also returning for another go-round, is Robert Feeney who slides from one role into that of “Burt-like” staunch Republican Banker, Rod. He’s very good in the role and is especially moving in the number, “Fantasies Come True”- his manipulation of the Puppet is spot on and he breathes life into the character throughout. Stepping into Trekkie Monster (Formerly played by Feeney twice) is Cody Moore, whose experience with puppetry makes him a grand slam addition to the cast. His voice is also spot on for the gruff and lovable porn-addicted monster. Also stepping from one role to another is Jordan Brewer, filling the shoes of iconic child-star actor “Gary Coleman” (Represented in Puppet form). “Gary” is the butt of everyone’s jokes and Brewer carries off the tongue in cheek humor of the character very well.

New to the show is the shows other lead, “Kate Monster” (Vanessa Burkleo). Her voice carries strong throughout her solos and is endearing with a sense of blushing nervousness as she wishes for romance and dreams of one day opening a school for Monsters. Teri Dobbins plays “Lucy the Slut”, the wanton foil to Kate’s innocence and a delivers the goods on “Make ya’ Feel Special” solo. Then there are the enthusiastic “Bad Idea Bears”, a sickeningly cute pair of trouble-makers with lots of bad advice and temptations for our lead characters. The pair are played by Kelsey Posey and Taylor Landess with terrifically over-the-top enthusiasm.  

The rest of the ensemble cast step into a number of additional roles throughout the show, including an hilariously voice “Mrs. Thistwetwat”, a rambunctious clown with a great magic trick involving a bird, a terrific counting number, and a very blessed moment of silence.

5 out of 5 and a great way to lift your spirits when the holiday dumps come a’calling.

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