East 15th Street became Avenue Q Feb. 20 when The Vineyard Theatre and The New Group began the world premiere of the musical in which puppets and humans sing side by side, at the Vineyard venue. The production first extended its run to April 27.
Avenue Q, by Robert Lopez, Jeff Marx and Jeff Whitty, is set on the fictitious New York City street where characters like Rod, Brian, Kate Monster, Christmas Eve and others attempt to find their way in the real world. The comic show sends up popular children's television shows such as "Sesame Street" and "The Electric Company," serves up a bounty of pop culture references, includes "full puppet nudity, not suitable for children" and features an actress playing the former "Diff'rent Strokes" star Gary Coleman (he ends up being a superintendent of buildings on Avenue Q).
The show got off to a rough start having to cancel performances and do some reworking and restaging following the injury of the main puppeteer Rick Lyon. The musical employs three actors who portray human characters and four puppeteers who multi-task playing over a dozen puppet characters — all the while singing and dancing in full view of the audience.
Creators Lopez and Marx, 2000 Ed Kleban Award winners, provide the original concept as well as music and lyrics for the musical while Whitty (The Plank Project) handles the book. The Crumple Zone director Jason Moore directs the Off-Broadway run which features the creations of puppeteer Rick Lyon (whose work has been seen in "Men in Black" and "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.")
The cast of singers, actors and puppeteers of Avenue Q include Ann Harada, Jen Barnhart, Natalie Venetia Belcon (as Gary Coleman), Jordan Gelber, Stephanie D'Abruzzo, John Tartaglia and Lyon himself. Ken Roberson carves out choreography. Stephen Oremus serves as music supervisor. The design team features Anna Louizos (sets), Mirena Rada (costumes), Frances Aronson (lights) and Brett Jarvis (sound).
The production features the songs "Avenue Q Theme," "Opening," "If You Were Gay," "Purpose," "Everyone's A Little Bit Racist," "The Internet Is For Porn," "A Mix Tape," "I'm Not Wearing Underwear Today," "Special," "You Can Be As Loud As The Hell You Want (When You're Making Love)," "Fantasies Come True," "My Girlfriend, Who Lives In Canada," "There's A Fine, Fine Line," "There Is Life Outside Your Apartment," "The More You Ruv Someone," "Schadenfreude," "I Wish I Could Go Back To College," "The Money Song" And "For Now." A cast album is expected but no label or recording and release date have been announced.
For tickets to Avenue Q, at the Vineyard, 108 East 15 Street, call (212) 239-6200 or click here.