Avenue Q

9:39 am PHT

 Avenue Q Farewell Run poster.

I’ve heard good things about Avenue Q so I was determined to watch the Farewell Run of Atlantis’ production of this Tony Award-winning Broadway musical before the cast and crew perform in Singapore. Good thing that our former neighbor was able to snag some tickets and so me and my sister, our neighbor, and a couple of other friends got to watch Avenue Q last June 21. And what a blast it was!

For those who are not familiar with the play, Avenue Q is basically an adult version of Sesame Street, complete with humans interacting with human and monster puppets. Instead of spelling, vocabulary, counting and all that kindergarten stuff, we have racism, unemployment, homosexuality, and problems of the heart. The dialogue is peppered with swearing, and just like the poster’s warning, there’s gratuitous nudity and sex—between puppets. The themes tackled and the content of the play is actually enough to give a conservative Republican apoplexy. So if you’re a close-minded Christian, then this play is definitely not for you.

Being set in a run-down neighborhood in New York City, Avenue Q reminds me very much of Rent, another Broadway play whose movie adaptation I saw back in 2006. I love both Rent and Avenue Q and it’s actually interesting to compare and contrast the two. Rent is quite serious and moving (since AIDS is one of the underlying themes) while Avenue Q is light, funny and heartwarming. I would definitely recommend seeing the other if you’ve seen one of the two.

The songs are very catchy, and you can see vestiges of them like “The Internet is for Porn,” “Schadenfreude” and “A Fine Line” from the various plurks from the local bloggers. The plot is quite solid and gives us a fine story, but I find the resolution a bit too deus ex machina-ic (though it was foreshadowed earlier in the story) and the ending a bit too happy. Well, it is a comedy after all and not a tragedy, so I’ll let that slide.  :)

 Avenue Q stage set.

Of course I’ve never seen the original Broadway production so I have no way of knowing whether the local production is a faithful reenactment or a clever adaptation, but from what I’ve seen, I think Atlantis did the original material justice and the production was very superb. I was not really able to notice any gaffes or kinks or stupidly done moments. That said, the placement of the television, where some “educational” clips are shown, could be better (see the lower right corner of the photo above). It can hardly be seen by some of the audience especially in a tall venue like the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium of the RCBC Plaza.

While Rachel Alejandro did not reprise her role in this run, her replacement Carla Laforteza did an extremely good performance (and I think most of us in our group agree that she was better for the role than our impression of Rachel). All the other actors and actresses were excellent as well: Aiza Seguerra, Felix Rivera, Joel Trinidad, Frenchie Dy, Rycharde Everley and wife Thea Tadiar. That said, I think Felix Rivera’s handling of the puppet Princeton was a bit too exaggerated since we fixated on him more than we fixated on Princeton (he did mostly ok with his other puppet Rod). Unlike him, Carla Laforteza was able to give a very balanced portrayal of both Kate Monster and Lucy T. Slut such that we looked at her puppets more.

I think the last time I ever saw a play was back in college as part of some class requirement. Well, Avenue Q was quite the welcome return. If all plays were like Avenue Q, I really wouldn’t mind watching a few. Budget permitting of course.  :)

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