Avenue Q

Date 7th February 2014
Society Festival Players
Venue Mumford Theatre, Anglia Ruskin University Cambridge
Type of Production Musical
Director Davina Baron
Musical Director Joe Griffith
Choreographer Helen Beracki

Report

Author: Julie Petrucci

Winner of the Tony “Triple Crown” for Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book, Avenue Q is a renowned piece of cult theatre and with a cast of very talented actors and skilled puppeteers, is a hybrid of South Park, Sesame Street and the Muppet Show.

Avenue Q is home to some lively and off the wall characters that are performed by an alliance of humans and puppets.

The story follows Princeton (Rory Boyd), a bright-eyed college grad who comes to New York City with big dreams and a tiny bank account. He soon discovers that the only neighbourhood in his price range is Avenue Q; still, the neighbours seem nice. There’s Brian the out-of-work comedian (Scott Riley) and his Japanese therapist fiancee Christmas Eve (Rachel Bye); Nicky (Alan Hay) the good-hearted slacker and his roommate Rod (James Hayward)—a Republican investment banker who seems to have some sort of secret; an Internet addict called Trekkie Monster (Warren Clark); and a very cute kindergarten teaching assistant named Kate (Heather Panton). Plus a building’s superintendent called Gary Coleman (Trenetta Jones) and a night club singer Lucy the Slut (Lucy Cheke) Together, Princeton and his newfound friends struggle to find jobs, dates, and their ever-elusive purpose in life.

There was little to criticise in Davina Baron’s production for Festival Players.  The Band under the baton of Joe Griffith was excellent and only drowned out the dialogue the odd time (but that is nit-picking!).  The entire cast were brilliant.  It was absolutely fascinating to see the puppeteers making the puppets shadow their own physical movement (or should that be the other way round?) with lip-syncing perfection.  I thought Rory Boyd, Warren Clark, Heather Panton and Lucy Cheke (and puppets) were exceptional but this should take nothing from all the other puppeteers who were all absolutely amazing. 

However much I eulogise about the furry members of cast and their manipulators I should not ignore the human members. We enjoyed great performances too from Scott Riley, Trenetta Jones and Rachel Bye, all larger than life Avenue Q ‘human’ residents who more than held their own amongst all the fur.  That wedding dress was something else!   

This show was obviously a team effort with the backstage crew as much involved as the cast.  Well done Emma Coonan and Sarah Phelps the Puppet Wranglers who must have done some swift work back stage changing puppet costumes.  Congratulations too to Trekkie and Nicky’s right arms (Sam Billing & Danielle Phillips) - you could hardly see the join -smart work.  I could go on but if I do will end up with a long list of names!  Suffice it to say the whole cast worked as one to create an outstanding performance.

Before I saw this very funny (and definitely furriest!) show from Festival Players I only knew it by reputation.  Having been told it was ‘a bit rude’ I determined to go along with my broadest mind.  I loved it!  Even if you saw the West End production you will go a long way before you see a better production of it than this one from Festival Players.  Their Avenue Q should be right up your street!