Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, winners of the 1999-2000 Kleban Award for their theatre lyrics, will have their "Sesame Street" parody, Avenue Q: Children's Television for Twentysomethings performed in a reading hosted by Manhattan's York Theatre Company May 8.
The pair of composer-lyricists, who share their writing duties, met and began penning Avenue Q in the BMI-Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop in New York City. A handful of songs for the 45-minute pilot, which is meant to include puppets and/or animation, is a hit among their colleagues.
Marx and Lopez told Playbill On-Line that they are on the fence about where Avenue Q belongs: It could be both a TV comedy pilot (they also have other episodes in mind) or a hip, sweetly cynical, Off-Broadway style stage musical with potentially huge twenty- and thirtysomething appeal (think The Brady Bunch Live or School House Rock Live).
Songs in the "pilot," performed in part in a fall 1999 BMI cabaret, include a title number, "If You Were Gay," "Tear It Up and Throw It Away" (about being called to jury duty, and other civic responsibilities) and "There is Life Outside Your Apartment."
Is it a stage piece? "The York reading is a step in that direction," Marx said.
Feedback from two performances at the York will likely guide the writers about the project's destination.
Marx describes Avenue Q thus: "It's 'Sesame Street' grows up and temps."
Lopez and Marx share the prestigious Kleban Award (along with three other writers and their respective projects) for a spec movie musical script, "Kermit, Prince of Denmark," loosely based on Hamlet, starring Kermit the Frog. The project began as exercise in BMI, but quickly blossomed.
"We developed it just for fun, and we figured, if nothing else, it would be a good audition piece," said Marx, 29. "As we wrote it more and more, people said we should send it the Hensons."
The Jim Henson Company, which the late Jim Henson founded to develop projects with his creations, The Muppets, including Kermit the Frog, has the script and score, the pair said. The company was recently bought by a German corporation.
In BMI, Lopez and Marx wrote a 10-minute musical called Hansel and Gretel in Disneyland. "That's all we'll say about it," said Lopez, 25, adding that it was a dark little show.
Marx is a Hollywood, FL, native who studied in the University of Michigan's musical theatre program and also earned a law degree. Lopez is a native New Yorker who attended Yale and studied music and English.
They are working on two full length commissions for Theaterworks USA.
-- By Kenneth Jones