Friday, March 23, 2018

Avenue Q: The High School Musical???

I've seen and written about several productions of Avenue Q over the past several years, as it is one of my favorite musicals. Recent events transpired, and a young family friend found himself cast with  the ensemble for this terrific show- in his High School. So, I found myself confused, amused, and transfixed with the opportunity to see a show that features Puppets having sex, talking about racism, pornography, suicide, and irresponsible drinking but with a High School spin. What would remain? How would the songs change? What would the end product be?

So yes, there were many changes.... you were no longer "As loud as the hell you want", there were no Girlfriends from Canada, and the internet was for "Fun". But what remains is the heart of the show and themes of confusion, growing older, and taking responsibility for your life and recognizing that stress is always impermanent. And the young teen cast capably handle the complex issues of gender, sexuality, economics, responsibility, and relationships.

Christian Hurtado leads the cast with the role of Princeton (also doubling as Rod), the new kid to Avenue Q and whose journey we are following as he exits college and enters a world he is ill prepared to handle. Celeste Seymour embraces the ridiculous nature of an obviously white girl playing the role of Television's Gary Coleman, capably handling her solo in Schadenfreude with delicious enthusiasm. Desmond Aguilera embraces a somber presence as the un-funny comedin, Brian and Xavier Rodriguez goes through vocal gymnastics while handling the dialogue and songs for Nicky, Trekkie Monster, Boy Bear, Ricky, and the Newcomer. Katrina Torres is at times very funny, endearing, and vocally gifted but she seemed a little guilty to be playing such an offensively written character and didn't really embrace the insulting cadence that Christmas Eve is known to have.

But the absolute shining light of the show had been Jackie Ortiz in the roles of Kate Monster and Lucy (No last name for this adaptation). At turns innocent, endearing, and having a full grasp of the material, Ortiz delivers amazing vocals and projects the emotional turns for her puppet with gravitas and stopping on the dime perfect comedic timing.

8 out of 10

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