"I think it's fair to say that I am the original cast member," said Lyon in a release. "I met Bobby [Lopez] and Jeff [Marx], the composer/lyricists of Avenue Q, when I did a BMI workshop demo of one of their songs for their spec musical Kermit, Prince Of Denmark." That meeting occurred in 1999 and though that show did not come to fruition, the collaboration took them on the path to Broadway with another puppet venture.
Lyon has performed in every incarnation of the show including its Off-Broadway run at the Vineyard Theatre — where he sustained an injury during a performance and went on to do some shows, in voice alone, seated offstage while he recouped. After almost 800 performances, Lyon plays his last Broadway performance on July 3 at the 7 PM show.
"The puppets have changed so much," Lyon explained. "I see early tapes of readings we did and I shudder! I'm so proud of the way they look now, and it's so incredible to go out on stage every night and perform and be surrounded with these things I've created." The show currently uses 42 puppets manipulated by six puppeteers. (Read Playbill.com's interview with Lyon about the inner workings of the show in the Brief Encounter section.)
Lyon's company — The Lyon Puppets — is busy at work on building the puppets for the Las Vegas production of Avenue Q, which is scheduled to open at the Wynn Las Vegas resort in September. Lyon and his co-star Tartaglia — who earned a Tony Award nomination for his turn as Princeton and Rod — have been offered to reprise their roles for the Nevada venue, but no deals have been finalized.
"I don't know. We've talked about it," Lyon explained of his possible Vegas involvement. "The only sure thing is that my replacement has already been hired for Broadway, and come July 3, I'm done there." Lyon summed up the experience for him: "I am such an unlikely guy to end up in a Broadway musical, I am not the type of person people expect to see onstage, and for the last 17 years I've strictly been a puppeteer. But the community of actors has been so accepting and generous to me it's meant so much, I hope I can maintain some of those ties."