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Theater Review: "Avenue Q"

“Avenue Q” plays through July 1, 2018, at New Village Arts, 2787 State Street, Carlsbad.
Photo credit:
Daren Scott

“They” are Jeff Whitty and Robert Lopez, jointly responsible for the hilarious puppet musical “Avenue Q,” which has been around amusing audiences since 2003. A sparkling production is back onstage for a run through July 1 at New Village Arts in Carlsbad.

Avenue Q is somewhere in New York City, where several underfunded young people try to survive while looking for success and love. It’s a modest (okay, dilapidated) apartment complex where hopeful up-and-comers meet, live and sing some funny (and sometimes raunchy) songs.

Newcomer Princeton (the one with the B.A. in English) rents a place from the super, Gary Coleman (a hysterically funny Cashae Monya in overalls), who wants to know if he has the rent money. At just that moment, the phone rings for Princeton. It’s his new boss, firing him before he works a day, as a result of a “downsizing” operation.

So Princeton (Zackary Scot Wolfe) will spend some time looking for his “Purpose.”

He’ll find pretty, perky kindergarten teaching assistant Kate Monster (Gerilyn Brault), whose dream (if not her purpose) is to open a “Monsterssori” school for “people of fur,” whom she feels suffer unfair discrimination.

Everyone on Avenue Q has problems. Brian (Steven Freitas) thought he’d be a big comedian on late-night TV. His Japanese girlfriend Christmas Eve (Ciarlene Coleman), a therapist, lacks clients. Good-hearted slacker Nicky (Tony Houck) can’t get his uptight roommate Rod (Zackary Scot Wolfe), a Republican investment banker, to admit his secret.

Then there’s the hairy Trekkie Monster (Tony Houck), who apparently solves his relationship problems with his conviction that “The Internet Is For Porn.”

But they all have each other, and Princeton even finds that Kate Monster thinks he’s cute. One night at a bar, the Bad Idea Bears (Chris Bona and Jasmine January) ply them with multiple Long Island Iced Teas, leading to a hilarious sex orgy involving a hilarious Melissa Fernandes as Lucy the Slut.

Though the characters are mostly puppets, the emotions are real. Check out the song titles. Who hasn’t occasionally thought that “It Sucks To Be Me,” or opined that “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist,” or occasionally engaged in “Schadenfreude”?

Director AJ Knox keeps the action moving, Music Director Nina Gilbert heads up the fine five-man band, and this fine cast does the rest, including singing, acting and dancing while making a puppet move. (Give Puppet coach Lynne Jennings some credit here.)

Kudos to Christopher Scott Murillo for the properly rundown-looking set, and to Chris Renda and Melanie Chen Cole for their fine work on lighting, sound, and projections.

Elisa Benzoni comes through again with just-right costumes, and Jenna Ingrassia-Knox contributes appropriate choreography.

Check out the lobby exhibit of the history of puppetry, too. It’s fascinating.

Take a trip to “Avenue Q.” This show is guaranteed to amuse, touch and delight all comers.

The details

“Avenue Q” plays through July 1, 2018, at New Village Arts, 2787 State Street, Carlsbad.

Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m.; Saturday at 3 and 8 p.m.; Sunday at 2 and 7 p.m.

Tickets: (760) 433-3245 or www.newvillagearts.org