(ADVISORY FOR READERS: This review reflects on the play’s well-placed street utterances and may not be appropriate for a young audience or those easily offended by contemporary language.)

“Today’s show is brought to you by the letter … Q!” 
(standard opening to a famous children’s program)

Questions to ask oneself prior to viewing the play:

1. What if Howard Stern and Randy Newman channeled Rodgers and Hammerstein and wrote a quizzacious musical about millennials?

2. And what if the show confronted the myriad quisquous questions facing today’s young adults in their quixotic quest for purpose and meaning?

3. Are you with me so far? If so, embark on a journey down Avenue Q, a witty, thought-provoking glimpse into some inconvenient truths. You’ll hear synonyms for queer, quean and quoniam, as well as other well-placed street utterances that may not be appropriate for a young audience or those easily offended by contemporary language.


4. Regarding questions 1, 2 and 3: Want the answers? Go look them up!

“Avenue Q,” the triple Tony Award-winning musical comedy written by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, is the current Community Little Theatre production featuring great live music, clever lyrics and extremely talented performers/puppeteers. It delivers laughs, love, life and honest yearning in a smorgasbord of human emotions portrayed by mostly nonhuman individuals.

Remaining performances run at 7:30 p.m. April 11, 12 and 13 and 2 p.m. April 14, at the Great Falls Performing Arts Center at 30 Academy St. in Auburn.

This is an ambitious production requiring a large and multi-talented cast, a consummate performance band, astute lighting and state of the art sound. Here, everyone involved conveys the essential intensity to deliver a top-notch performance.

The Sesame Street parallel is unspoken but obvious and staged with a sly twist in a gritty but good-humored treatment of topical issues. “Avenue Q” is set in a less than stellar neighborhood. After the opening number (“It Sucks to be Me!”) introducing the current residents, they encounter Princeton (the Johnny-come-lately). When asked what has brought him to Avenue Q, Princeton declares he is looking for a place to live. “… I started at ‘Avenue A’ but everything so far is out of my price range. But this neighborhood looks a lot cheaper! Oh, and look – here’s a ‘FOR RENT’ sign!”

On Avenue Q, we find a winsome panoply of puppets:


• Princeton, a recent college graduate bemoaning the expense he has incurred in obtaining a “useless” BA in English;

• Kate Monster and Trekkie Monster are conflicted about inclusion and acceptance;

• Rod and Nicky, doppelgangers of Bert and Ernie, resolve the long-standing debate regarding their living arrangement;

• The Bad Idea Bears, those little voices in our ears that lure us into dubious choices;

• Lucy, a promiscuous temptress — and generally not a nice person; and

• Mrs. Thistletwat, Kate Monster’s boss.


The puppeteers, who co-exist with their counterparts, provide powerful voice, neat choreography and wonderfully nuanced facial expressions to the puppets they animate.

The gifted, hardworking puppeteers are Michael Pullen as Princeton; Jordan Payne Hay as Kate Monster; Michael Litchfield as Rod; Dan Kane as Trekkie Monster; Ashleigh St. Pierre as Lucy and Mrs. T; Cody Watson as Ricky; Becca Tinkham as Bear #1; Madison Rozells as Bear #2; and Maxwell Draper, ensemble.

Rehearsing a scene about questioning political correctness for Community Little Theatre’s upcoming production of “Avenue Q” are, from leftt, Myra Diehl, Christopher Hodgkin, Jordan Payne-Hay, Michael Pullen and Kay Warren. (Sun Journal photo by Russ Dillingham)


And the live and inanimate personages/appearances:

• A young, affianced couple, Brian, played by Christopher Hodgkin, an unemployed wannabe stand-up comic, and his spouse, Christmas Eve, played by Myra Diehl, a Japanese therapist (with two master’s degrees!), whose inability to maintain a steady clientele may be (gasp!) racially influenced;

• A guest star appearance by Gary Coleman (yep, Gary Coleman), who presumably slipped into oblivion on Avenue Q after his “child star” status lost its luster. Gary Coleman is played by Kay Warren;


• A delightful chorus of singing UPS boxes; and

• Visually compelling animation dumpsters, stage left and right.

Rehearsing a scene about love interest for Community Little Theatre’s upcoming production of “Avenue Q” are Michael Litchfield, left and Jordan Payne-Hay. (Sun Journal photo by Russ Dillingham)


Basically, the plot here is a series of scenes with songs arising often and energetically in largely choral format with interspersed spotlighted solos and duets. Race, sexuality, relationships and self-doubt are among the themes explored. The audience is indirectly invited to consider one’s own reactions to these topics.

Kate Monsters’ “There’s a fine, fine line” is a beautiful and poignant solo ballad. Raucous renditions of “Everyone’s a little bit racist,” “You can be as loud as the hell you want” and “Schadenfreude,” among the several other catchy tunes, should bring both smiles and blushes to each of us if we are honest with ourselves.

Millennials (you know, 20-somethings to 30-somethings) should find this musical honest, relevant, fun, meaningful and hopeful.

Those of us who are a bit older should, as well. Moreover we should be able to smile in sincere appreciation because “Avenue Q” allows us to step back into the wonders of childhood, where puppetry, music and message can inform and inspire us. With age comes wisdom and now we are armed with some testing truths about ourselves. “Avenue Q” is a perfect opportunity to glance in the rearview mirror.

Don’t forget to check your blind spot!

As for me, as I was enjoying the show I was a bit haunted by the soundtrack of my youth — from the song “Ooh-la-la” — I wish I knew what I know now, when I was younger.

Community Little Theatre cast members for the upcoming production of “Avenue Q” are, left to right: Madison Rozells, Christopher Hodgkin, Becca Tinkham, Kay Warren, Michael Litchfield, Michael Pullen, Myra Diehl, Cody Watson, Jordan Payne-Hay, Dan Kane, Ashleigh StPierre and Maxwell Draper. (Sun Journal photo by Russ Dillingham)

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