Broadway’s Avenue Q proves puppets pack pizzaz

It has passion, purpose and puppets.

Avenue Q arrived at the Fox Theatre this past week with multiple showings running from March 25 to 30. I must say it’s not a show for children and those who maintain their innocent ideals of puppetry. Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx’s ideas delighted the audience with their Tony Award-winning musical.

Springing from Marx and Lopez’s minds, along with the puppet creations of Rick Lyon, Avenue Q showcases many unique individuals and puppets to tell the story of living on Avenue Q and dealing with real life through the mediums of talented live actors and anthropomorphic puppets deftly manipulated on stage. As the lights go down and the curtain goes up, the stage reveals a lone college graduate, Princeton, who’s looking forward to living out of school and using his Bachelor of Arts in English to make a real difference.

Unfortunately, he finds that he’s been thrust into a world where there are many problems to deal with and questions of what he will do with his life, but he must find a new residence.

After searching the apartment buildings of Avenue A through P, Princeton finds an open apartment where he can search for a revelation and purpose in his life: Avenue Q. There he meets his new neighbors, Kate Monster, Brian, Rod, Nicky, Trekkie Monster, Christmas Eve, the superintendent and Different Strokes star Gary Coleman and the devil’s advocates represented as the comical Bad Idea Bears.

In this co-op of neighbors, every person helps one another out, and they learn some pertinent, humorous and musical life lessons during their lives’ ups and downs. These songs truly make this production a wonder to see. Every musical number is quite hilarious and relevant to everyday obstacles: racism, homosexuality, making a living, love, Sheudenfreude, finding your purpose and making one’s dreams reality.

While some songs have a base of seriousness, the comical songs are definitely the highlight of the evening. Some of the most laudably funny were “The Internet Is for Porn,” “My Girlfriend, Who Lives in Canada” and “You Can Be as Loud as the Hell You Want (When You’re Makin’ Love).” I found the uproarious laughter followed to be something only Avenue Q could possibly produce. There’s even room for philanthropy in the performance when the actors of Avenue Q take donations to help others with AIDS. There were also the company’s posters available in the lobby, whose proceeds would be donated to the charity.

Throughout the night, each character developed into a complex and extraordinarily lifelike being, and life had a bit of a “better” outlook for all the residents by the end, except for Gary Coleman.

Naturally, the cast received the standing ovation they deserved. The turnout at the Fox Theatre did show that, while originally conceived as a television pilot, Avenue Q has flourished for four years with its educational musical/comedy genre. To take a line from Kate Monster’s solo, “There’s a Fine, Fine Line”: “There’s a fine, fine line between ‘You’re Wonderful’ and ‘Goodbye.’” I definitely hope Avenue Q will never cross to the latter.