Give Us Your Money! Musical Avenue Q Recoups Investment on Broadway; Tour Next

News   Give Us Your Money! Musical Avenue Q Recoups Investment on Broadway; Tour Next Broadway's puppet-and-people-populated musical Avenue Q has recouped its investment in 45 weeks, according to the producers. Plans are currently underway for a national tour.

"I'll be able to pay for my children's education," quipped producer Jeffrey Seller to Playbill On-Line. One in the Avenue Q producing team, Seller has previously enjoyed Off-Broadway-to-Broadway transfer success. "I'm a spoiled producer because Rent was my first production and that recouped I think in 14 weeks."

The new musical, capitalized at $3.5 million, opened at Broadway's Golden Theatre July 31 to positive critical and audience response. The show transferred uptown following a successful run at Off-Broadway's Vineyard Theatre.

Seller presents the new musical on Broadway with Kevin McCollum, Robyn Goodman, Vineyard Theatre and The New Group. The musical was workshopped at The Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center.

"The fact that we could bring Avenue Q to Broadway in the middle of summer, build an audience, please an audience, grow an audience and then recoup after 10 months, it doesn't get any better than that."

A national tour is also in the works, confirmed Seller. "We are hunkering down as we speak, planning our next production which will take the shape of a tour." He added, "We're certainly excited about taking this show to the country at large. And we're going to be unfolding those plans right after the Tony Awards." The cast of the Broadway show — who recently created a musical spoof for the Easter Bonnet competition with the Fiddler on the Roof cast called Avenue Jew — will once again put their talents to work for a presentation to road presenters.

Seller explained "[The road presenters] are coming in for the Spring Road Conference and there will be an Avenue Q lunch at John's Pizzeria. As part of that lunch, we wanted to entertain them, but we knew that you can't just do numbers from your show because they're all going to see the show on stage that week. So, the citizens of Avenue Q have created a whole new show of material that you can't see on the stage at the John Golden Theatre and will be doing that material at the luncheon at noon on May 12."

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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."

The musical employs three actors who portray human characters and four puppeteers who play more than a dozen puppet characters — in full view of the audience. The Avenue Q cast includes Ann Harada (as Christmas Eve), Jennifer Barnhart (Mrs. Thistletwat, Bad Idea Bear #2 and others), Natalie Venetia Belcon (as Gary Coleman), Jordan Gelber (as Brian), Stephanie D'Abruzzo (Kate Monster, Lucy T. Slut and others), John Tartaglia (Princeton and Rod) and Rick Lyon (Nicky, Trekkie Monster, Bad Idea Bear #1 and others).

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.")

The musical's score has been recorded for posterity on the original Broadway cast recording released by Victor. Show creators Lopez and Marx are also at work on a movie project with Universal Pictures as well as a television show with VH1.

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.

John Tartaglia and Stephanie D'Abruzzo in <i>Avenue Q</i>
John Tartaglia and Stephanie D'Abruzzo in Avenue Q Photo by Carol Rosegg