Avenue Q's Tony-Nominated Composers at Work on Stage, Film and TV Projects

News   Avenue Q's Tony-Nominated Composers at Work on Stage, Film and TV Projects When comedic composers Jeff Marx and Robert Lopez say "We're busy," they aren't joking.

Jeff Marx (left) and Robert Lopez
Jeff Marx (left) and Robert Lopez Photo by Morgan Allen

The duo behind the Tony Award-nominated musical Avenue Q are at work on a new stage musical with another famous comedy duo ("South Park" creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone), a Universal movie musical and two television projects – one based on their lives and another on their current Broadway show.

"We're working on a musical with the creators of 'South Park'," Lopez told Playbill On-Line. "It's a new musical about religion. A comedy. Ironic and funny. It's about a religion but we can't tell you which one. It should be ready in about a season or two."

When pressed if the religion in question was possibly Judaism, Islam or the Mormon church, Lopez laughed, "It's one of those three!"

Lopez continued, "We're also working on a movie for Universal. It's an original movie musical comedy. Marc Platt, the producer of Wicked, came to us with the idea and we are hacking away at that now." Lopez's musical counterpart Marx interjected, "They hired us to write it and we are on page 20." Lopez added, "We have three songs and about five scenes."

The Kleban Award winners have seen their little-musical-that-could grow from a BMI Lehman-Engel bud into a Tony Award-nominated and financial success. (Avenue Q recently announced that the production recouped its initial $3.5 million investment.) The musical, once planned as a television project, will come full circle as one of the team's TV ventures. "VH1 is doing a TV show about us. A real-life sitcom in which the stars are two Broadway composers - one straight, one gay – and their lives," Lopez explained. "Very much like us!" quipped Marx. Lopez continued, "The trick of the show is that we actually break into song in reality. Full-fledged production numbers on the streets of New York with a little hand-held camera. Not only that, but we're also doing `Avenue Q - The TV Show.'"

Though the big and small screen ventures are welcome by the young songwriters, Marx was sure to note their devotion to the stage. "We’re also talking to various bookwriters looking for more stage musicals to write. We definitely want to do another stage musical in addition to the one we're doing with Matt and Trey. We haven't landed on one yet."

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Avenue Q sends up popular children's television shows such as "Sesame Street" and "The Electric Company," while serving up a bounty of pop culture references and solving the mystery of the whereabouts of former "Diff'rent Strokes" child star Gary Coleman. The production bears the warning: "Full puppet nudity, not suitable for children."

Creators Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx provide the original concept as well as music and lyrics for the musical, while Jeff Whitty (The Plank Project) handles the book. Jason Moore (The Crumple Zone) directs the Broadway run, which features the creations of puppeteer Rick Lyon (whose work has been seen in "Men in Black" and "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.")

Ken Roberson carves out choreography. Stephen Oremus serves as music supervisor and arranger. Musical director Gary Adler also provides incidental music. The design team features Anna Louizos (sets), Mirena Rada (costumes), Howell Binkley (lights) and Acme Sound Partners (sound).

Avenue Q plays at the Golden Theatre, 252 West 45 Street. For more information, visit www.avenueq.com.

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