Avenue Q

Date 26th July 2023
Society South Manchester AOS
Venue Altrincham Little Theatre
Type of Production Musical
Director Thom Copestake
Musical Director Ed Nurse
Choreographer Faye Alison


Author: Claire Ashworth

Avenue Q has its own very specific set of diehard  fans so it was heartwarming on a torrential rainy evening to see the theatre filled with a mixture of both long standing fans and "newbies". The audience entered the auditorium and instantly took in the open set , primary coloured doors and window edges, red brick walls, lights behind some of the window panes with figure like shapes moving about. A  t.v. monitor was inset into a central section of wall so that all the audience could see the extra bits that help to move the plot of the show along. A haze machine was used at one side of the stage, I do understand why it is used but the placement of this particular machine meant that at times the haze came out more like a fog and obscured the action onstage , I must however add that it did quickly spread and disperse. Sound had a few gremlins throughout but nothing too distracting, the balance between the band and the vocals was good.

I personally did have a couple of points to mention  - the puppeteer and the puppet are meant to be one whole not two separate entities, so the puppeteer shouldn`t really be looking at the puppet and reacting to the puppet because the puppeteer and  the puppet  are one ( I hope that makes sense), unfortunately at times this was a little blurred to me. An awful lot of Gary Coleman`s exits went into Brian and Christmas Eve`s house - I was left wondering did he live with them? These are only my personal observations though.

Abbie Venables as Kate Monster gave a touching performance, the audience were 100% behind her when Lucy The Slut (Faye Allison) appeared and completely mesmerised Princeton (Ben Vaughan) with her cleavage, long blonde hair tossing and perfectly on the beat hip swaying walk. Abbie delivered some excellent one liners with perfect comedy timing and expression towards the audience in synchro with her puppet. "There`s a Fine, Fine Line " is a personal favourite of mine and I do feel that Abbie/Kate Monster did it justice, the emotion came through -  we felt her angst and her sadness. The chemistry on stage between Abbie and Ben and then Ben and Faye was very evident, there was a comfortableness to their performance. All their vocals were strong and solid, tone was good, dialogue was delivered clearly and unrushed.

I have been fortunate to see Alex Re as Trekkie Monster a few times now and it always amazes me how he seems to find something new and different to portray in the role every time. It is very evident that Alex thoroughly enjoys playing the role , he manages to show the audience Trekkie`s softer, empathetic side from the start - he instantly connects with the audience , as we approached Trekkie`s infamous song "The Internet is for Porn" I could feel the anticipation from the die hard fans of the show sat around me. Steven Cheeseman as Rod was superb, he completely embodied the character and showed a great connection with his puppet. His vocals were strong and solid, we heard every single word. The chemistry between the characters Rod and his friend Nicky (Tim Wood) was evident, their dialogue flowed and pace was good. Faye Allison (Lucy The Slut) was strong and fierce on stage, she owned every moment , her dialogue delivery was good and even with her characters drawling accent it was all very clear, she worked the audience well. My guest was an Avenue Q  "newbie" and so she didn`t really get the whole thing that when Lucy The Slut dies she finds Jesus and comes back  as a born again virgin - perhaps an Angel chorus and an exclamation of "Jesus"  as well as the shaft of beaming  light could have helped portray that defining moment a little better? Only a thought though.

The choreography for the show by Faye Allison was fitting to the scenes and executed well. I particularly enjoyed the full company number "For Now" I loved the way all the puppets had a definite look of their puppeteers. Thank you for inviting me, I Iook forward to seeing you all again soon.