Sunday, June 22, 2008

Avenue Q  

Random: I hate to say it, but it’s got to be another quick one tonight.

I find myself putting everything not related to childcare off until the end of the day (which is actually how it should be, really) but the downside is that I have lots of projects and things I like to putter around with, and I can’t squeeze them all into a two-hour block before bedtime.

Forgive the cliché, but there just aren’t enough hours in the day.

Anyway, the subject of tonight’s missive is the Broadway show, Avenue Q.

I wasn’t much of a musicals fan before hooking up with the wife, but theater is a great passion of hers and she’s introduced me to it gradually. Every time a new show comes to town, we try to get tickets and make it out for a night of live entertainment. This week, Avenue Q is in Seattle, and it’s definitely worth the price of a seat.

Before you start rolling your eyes and click away to someone else’s blog, let me just say that Avenue Q is a musical for people who don’t like musicals. Skipping a lot of the kind of screechy, sappy production you’d usually expect from the sort of thing, the people behind the show have given it a strong injection of modern sensibility and comedy. And really, the point of the show isn’t the singing or drama, it’s about the biting social commentary and saying a lot of things that are absolutely not PC.

Yeah, I know this puppet is Rod and not Princeton.

The gist of the story is that Princeton, fresh out of college, finds himself in the big city and in need of a house and a job. He finds a cheap room for rent on Avenue Q, and over the course of the show the characters find ways to sing songs about the worthlessness of college education, the problems of being homosexual, the joy of finding pleasure in other people’s misery, the fact that it’s OK to be a little bit racist, and a dozen other things that you don’t usually associate with people up on a stage, singing and dancing. However, I wouldn’t say that the show is absurd just for the sake of being absurd, it’s actually pretty frank and direct communication about topics that most people are just too uncomfortable to discuss openly.

It's pretty damned refreshing, actually.

The really genius part (as you can tell by the photos) is that the whole show is a takeoff of Sesame Street, featuring the same sort of educational bits and kid-friendly puppets that you’d expect to see on channel 9 any Sunday morning. The juxtaposition of the visuals with the content is absurdly delicious, and makes the whole thing go down just as smoothly as a spoonful of sugar.

My only disappointment is that I had listened to the soundtrack before actually seeing the show, so I already knew in advance what the songs and gags were about. I still enjoyed it, and the visuals of seeing what goes on onstage absolutely added an element that a simple CD couldn’t provide, but if I had been seeing the show for the first time when I sat in a theater, I would have been busting a gut and completely shocked (in a good way).

If you’ve got the chance to see the show, I absolutely recommend it… unless you’re a complete social conservative, Avenue Q is a hilarious, entertaining experience that’s solid enough to provide a worthwhile night out to even the most dedicated musicals hater.

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