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Avenue Q

Date

18th November 2017

Society

University of Manchester Musical Theatre Society

Venue

Council Chambers

Type of Production

Musical

Director

Charlie White

Musical Director

Billy McCreith & Tom Pieczora

Choreographer

Fenella Weatley

Report

Author: Kevin Proctor

In 2003, this musical comedy broke the mould of modern musical theatre.

If you've never seen Avenue Q, this production sees this comic and often delightful musical exactly as its creators intended with its original Off-Broadway intimacy intact. The direction by Charlie White is sharp which pays homage to the original book whilst making subtle tweaks to hoist it into 2017. I wasn’t overly keen on references made to the local area including the university itself as this is evidently an American musical so it didn’t really warrant the cheapness of these gags which didn’t really fit, however, that is my one and only criticism from this production, so now that we’ve got that out of the way let’s savour in the approvals.   

These eleven performers at the heart of Avenue Q are superbly talented in acting, singing, and (in most cases) puppetry too. Yes, it’s a ridiculous laugh-a-minute show but this cast quickly smack us with sentiment which doesn’t fail to tug at the heart strings.

Like the show's most obvious model, Sesame Street, the integrative sense permeating the proceedings makes it impossible for anything to seem incongruous. The puppets and people of Avenue Q may face real-world problems like poverty and broken relationships, but it's still a world where anything can (and frequently does) happen.

The presentation was kept very simple allowing the players and their puppetry skills to make all of the biggest statements. Whether homing in on a foam and fur creation or the actors ever engaging expressions they’re all completely believable, even under the most zany of circumstances. A superb cast which, as it should, made all of the biggest and boldest impressions.

It didn’t take long for our inner childish nature to awaken and relish in the safe hands of this superb production. This clever cast of characters ticked every box, we might be struggling within our own lives whether it be unemployment, being single or coming to terms with sexuality the chances are you will leave this production having completely identified with another human… or puppet.

Although the show is already over 14 years old, its essence refuses to grow thin over time, providing you have a talented cast to carry the script's humour and belt out those cheeky, politically incorrect tunes. In the case of this UMMTS cast, they certainly hit the mark with aplomb!

Impressively, nothing was hired in. Even the puppets had been made by the company and being so close I could wholly appreciate the skill and detail that had gone into them. A truly splendid job.   

I’m purposely not going to single out any individuals of the cast in this review as this was a strong ensemble exertion and doesn’t really feel right to home in on any specific member of this cast as they’d all get a gushing sentence or two and I don’t want to intoxicate any reader with too much flattering praise.    

A consistently funny, incredibly well-acted and gorgeously sung production, what better way to be entertained.  

Simply put, this show was pristine. We may wonder how we got to this point in our lives and constantly question our purpose - but for now, I’m happy that a single evening’s purpose is well spent just to sit back, laugh and rejoice at the marvel of this modern-day musical.