Encore Michigan

Wayne State’s ‘Avenue Q’ comes to the neighborhood

Review September 28, 2018 David Kiley

DETROIT, Mich.–Avenue Q has become one of the most popular shows to do in regional theater these days, and even community theatre. And despite the fact that is a bit of a send-up on children’s television, it is most definitely not for the kiddies.

That said, it is performing at Wayne State ‘s College of Fine Performing and Communications Arts Hilberry Theatre, and it is a terrific, funny, production.

Avenue Q opened Off-Broadway in March 2003, and moved to Broadway the following July where it won three Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

The whole play spoofs Sesame Street, and most of the actors use puppets for their characters. But, again, not for the kids.

The musical follows recently graduated and currently cash-poor Princeton on his journey to find his purpose. All the way out on Avenue Q, he finds not only a home on a New York City block, but a circle of friends who are all searching for something missing in their lives.

The story is full of naughtiness including puppets who engage in all sorts of sexual antics. The program has a disclaimer that states “Avenue Q had not been authorized or approved by the Jim Henson Company or Sesame Street Workshop, which have no responsibility for its content.” No kidding. And besides the sexual antics, there’s racism, sexism and some bawdy, blue language. But it’s funny…at least to most who attend, though I am always aware that a few season-ticket buyers don’t always know what they are getting into when they get their tickets punched.

The characters — Princeton, Kate Monster, Trekkie Monster, Lucy, Nicky, Rod, Gary Coleman, Brian and Christmas Eve — are neighbors on Avenue Q. Songs are tongue-in-cheek, and especially resonate, I imagine, with the students performing the roles: “What Do You Do With a B.A. In English,” “If You Were Gay,” “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist,” “The Internet is for Porn” and “I’m Not Wearing Any Underwear Today.”

The show is quite an ensemble effort, and literally all the actors and voices are strong.

It is tough, tense times in America. Avenue Q is a darn fine escape.