It’s always fun to revisit a show you haven’t seen in a while and it’s even nicer when that production lives up to the memories you have of the Broadway production of that show. That was the case with The Little Theatre of Alexandria’s production of “Avenue Q”. What made this production even more fun for me was that it is coinciding with another Tony Award winning show by composer and lyricist Robert Lopez, “The Book of Mormon”. Being able to see these two shows within weeks of each other in such vastly different venues of The Kennedy Center and the Little Theatre gave me even greater appreciation of Robert Lopez of how his two shows were able to handle and succeed in such differing venues. On top of that, it gave me great appreciation of the production that the Little Theatre put on, from the professional sets to the outstanding performers. The performers/puppeteers did a wonderful job of capturing the emotions of their characters through both the posture (for lack of a better expression) of their puppet and combining it with their own posture as well. As an audience member the most difficult decision you had to make was whether to watch the puppets or the performers of those puppets, because both were so emotive and enhanced the performance. What made it even more enjoyable is that the entire cast seemed to be having as much fun as the audience and for a show like Avenue Q that is essential.
As for the show itself, think Sesame Street for the recently graduated from college set. Finding their way in the world with a Bachelor’s degree, but no discernible skill set. It follows the lives of a group of puppets and humans that live in an apartment building in New York as they enter the work force and our faced with the ups and downs of employment, relationships, and life in general. Of course it is done in an irreverent and humorous manner that may offend the most sensitive of audience members with songs like “The Internet Is For Porn”, “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist”, “You can be as loud as the hell you want (when you’re makin’ love”, and “My girlfriend, who lives in Canada”. But pull away the full on “graphic” puppet sex scene, some foul language, and some pseudo-taboo topics and you have a group of characters who really care about each other and are just trying their best. Whether it is a character trying to start a school, another trying to find his purpose, or another accepting his sexuality the acceptance and support they receive along the way from their friends shows that the heart of this show is truly sappy. And that sensibility is clearly seen in “The Book of Mormon”. While the media gives a lot of the credit to the more high profile guys from South Park, I truly see Robert Lopez’s fingers all over that show after taking in Avenue Q again.
While it has only a short time left before it’s run ends, if you have any inclination to check it out make it your business because this production is well worth it.