THEATER REVIEW: "Avenue Q" at Coronado Playhouse

Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx had me at “What Do You Do With a B.A. in English?”

Lopez and Marx wrote the music and lyrics for “Avenue Q,” the best musical since “West Side Story,” getting a terrific production through Feb. 28 at Coronado Playhouse. The third creative light is Jeff Whitty, who wrote the clever book for the show.

It’s bright-eyed recent college graduate Princeton (Edgar Diaz-Gutierrez) who’s wondering about the use of that degree he’s just earned. He’s looking for a place on crumbling Avenue Q (where rent is cheap) while he looks for a job, but his real goal is to find his “Purpose” in life.

On the Q, he meets others with similar problems: wannabe stand-up comic Brian (Jarrod Weintraub) and his Japanese girlfriend Christmas Eve (Tiffany Loui), a therapist; good-hearted slacker Nicky (Joel Miller) and his roommate Rod (Kyle Best), a Republican investment banker with a secret, and pretty kindergarten assistant teacher Kate Monster (Catie Marron). And – who’d have thought? – Gary Coleman (Taylor Henderson) is the super on Avenue Q, trying to keep these places rented.

Brian thought he’d be a big comedian on late-night TV. “I ain’t,” he concedes. Christmas Eve lacks clients. Kate Monster (who wants to start a “Monsterssori” school for “people of fur”) is dependent on “crabby old bitch” regular teacher Mrs. Lavinia Thistletwat, who asserts that “crabby old bitches are the bedrock of society.”

But they have each other, and Princeton even finds that Kate Monster thinks he’s cute. One night at a bar, the Bad Idea Bears (Patrick Mayuyu and Daryl Daley) ply them with multiple Long Island Iced Teas, leading to a hilarious sex orgy.

Did I mention these characters are all puppets? Or that the emotional content of this show is about as real as you’re ever going to see? It’s all about acceptance, survival, being honest with oneself and others and learning that “you gotta go after the things you want.” Then there’s that really big goal of finding your purpose in life.

Director Jennie Gray Connard (who also did the charming choreography) keeps the action moving, and this fine cast takes care of the rest – including how to sing, dance and act while making a puppet move at the same time. (Congratulations to puppet master Joe Fitzpatrick as well.)

Kudos to Barron Henzel, whose design for the broken-down neighborhood is just right, and to sound designer Rick Anthony and lighting designer Michael Barahura for their fine work.

The four-person band led by music director Kirk Valles contributes just the right background for this terrific score.

Stuffed with great songs like Trekkie Monster’s “The Internet Is For Porn” (I’ve suspected that myself), “Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist” (c’mon, admit it) and Kate’s “There’s A Fine, Fine Line (between love and a waste of time),” this show will amuse, touch and delight all comers. Guaranteed.

But leave the little ones home.

The details

“Avenue Q” plays through Feb. 28 at Coronado Playhouse, 1835 Strand Way, Coronado.

Thursday through Saturday at 8 pm; Sunday at 2 pm.

Tickets: (619) 435-4856 or HERE.