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‘Avenue Q’ at Horizon Theatre is Hilarious!

2011 May 26

Nick Arapoglou as Princeton and Mary Nye Bennett as Kate Monster; Photo: Horizon Theatre

It’s not like I loved three-time Tony Award-winner “Avenue Q” the first time I saw it less than a year ago when the national touring company came to town. But I wanted to see what Horizon Theatre would do with it and how it would differ.

Everyone in this show is stupendous, and Horizon’s production is outstanding. It was so great I want to shout to everyone, “Go see this play!” If you don’t like plays, you’ll love this one. If you don’t like musicals, you’ll love this one. If you don’t like comedy, you’ll laugh your ass off.  If you don’t like four-letter words, you’ll get over it fast.  And if you like plays, musicals and comedy, what the hell are you waiting for?

Next to “The Marriage of Bette and Boo,” it is probably my favorite show I’ve seen at Horizon, and I have liked a lot of its shows.

“Avenue Q” is about life, my life and your life. Face it, at times it sucks. And situations are funny. People are funny. But really, it sucks being you, and it sucks being me.

“Avenue Q” opens on Manhattan’s lower east side on Avenue Q. Princeton (Nick Arapoglou), who has just arrived in New York to begin his first job after obtaining his bachelor’s degree in English, spots a for rent sign on Avenue Q. He meets the superintendent, Gary Coleman (Spencer G. Stephens), the has-been  “whatyoutalkinabout” child actor who reports he has been broke ever since his parents stole all his money when he was 15.

Princeton has moved to Manhattan to start work immediately. However, just after getting his new apartment, he gets a phone call from someone at the company where he is to begin work and is informed that the company was acquired and his new position has been eliminated. He starts to sing, “It sucks to me.” Pretty soon, nearly everyone on Avenue Q comes forward, divulges his or her problems, and sings why it sucks to be them.

OK, Princeton is a puppet. Most of the his new friends on Avenue Q are puppets. His new girlfriend, Kate Monster (Mary Nye Bennett) is a blue monster puppet. (Their differences spawn the song “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist.) The puppets are controlled by people whose faces and bodies are shown  center-stage moving, acting and singing along in full view. The puppets are all charming and the cast members are so truthful in their acting that no matter how outrageous their characters become they are believable.

There are so many cute scenes and funny scenes with hilarious characters: There’s the lascivious, bluesy singer Lucy (Jill Hames) who seduces Princeton; there’s the Bad Idea Bears (Jeff McKerley and Hames),who plead to Princeton and Kate Monster to get drunk and have sex; and there’s Trekkie monster, the  male monster puppet who explains to teacher Kate Monster that the “Internet is for Porn.”

I wrote a review of the performance by the national touring company for “Avenue Q” about a year ago, and you can see that here. You’ll hear more of the story line, but all you really need to know is that Horizon’s production is hilarious.

Directed by Heidi Cline McKerley, “Avenue Q” runs at Horizon Theatre through July 3.

The cast includes Leslie W. Bellair, J.C. Long and Matt Nitchie.

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