“AVENUE Q": A WONDERFUL COMBO OF PEOPLE AND PUPPETS
By Bonnie Goldberg
When you graduate from college, short on financial means and possibly skimpy on skills, you might feel overwhelmed, especially if your name is Princeton and you’re a puppet. Your search for who you are and what your purpose in life is may take you on a journey of self-discovery and, if you are lucky, it will lead you to “Avenue Q.”
“Avenue Q” is a delightful musical that began life at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford at an International Puppetry Conference and went on to win the 2004 Tony Award for Best Musical. With book by Jeff Whitty and music and lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, this clever compilation of a Sesame Street Meets Mr. Rogers will be brought to amazing life at the Connecticut Cabaret Theatre in Berlin weekends until Saturday, April 21.
Director Kris McMurray has outdone himself, with spot-on fine casting and all the puppets from the original production, assembled in perfect harmony. Luckily for Princeton (Matthew Collin Marrero), he finds his way to Avenue Q and rents an apartment from the landlord Gary Coleman (Kourtney Coleman), yes that Gary Coleman.
There he meets some unique if not downright strange neighbors, friendly and loveable and not so much, like Kate Monster (Emily LaRose), a cute kindergarten teaching assistant, Trekkie Monster (Joe Autuoro with Kaite Corda), an internet porn addict, Rod (Matthew Collin Marrero), an investment banker and his roommate Nicky (Joe Autuoro with Kaite Corda), all puppets, and human characters, Brian (Bobby Schultz), an out-of-work comedian who is engaged to Christmas Eve (Sandra Lee), a therapist without any patients to cure.
With wit and charm, these people and puppets try to find and keep a job, work to distinguish love from lust (with the help of Lucy the Slut, Emily LaRose), separate good choices from bad (with the encouragement of the Bad Idea Bears, Joe Autuoro and Kaite Corda) and, most importantly, find their PURPOSE. Songs, musically directed by Pawel Jura, such as “It Sucks to be Me,” “If You Were Gay,” “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist,” “Schadenfruede” and “For Now” help them find their way as they deal with issues like alcoholism, homosexuality, pornography and marriage.
For tickets ($30), call the Connecticut Cabaret Theatre, 31-33 Webster Square Road, Berlin at 860-829-1248 or online at www.ctcabaret.com. Performances are Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m., with doors opening at 7:15. Remember to bring snacks to share at your table or buy cake and drinks at the on-site concession stand.
While liberally laced with four-letter words, “Avenue Q” contains basic life lessons about how helping others will make you feel better about yourself and, in the process, create a kinder world.