Double Down: Avenue Q Opens New Second Run at Wynn Las Vegas, Sept. 8

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08 Sep 2005

John Tartaglia in the Las Vegas production of <I>Avenue Q</I>.
John Tartaglia in the Las Vegas production of Avenue Q.
Photo by Carol Rosegg

Rod, Nicky, Kate, Trekkie Monster and all the residents of the 2004 Tony Award-winning musical Avenue Q double down at the Wynn Las Vegas Sept. 8, when John Tartaglia, Rick Lyon and a new cast celebrate the opening there.

Broadway producers Kevin McCollum, Robyn Goodman, Jeffrey Seller, Vineyard Theatre and The New Group are joined by Wynn Las Vegas for the new run at the 1,200-seat, $40 million Broadway Theatre — built especially for the production —within the Wynn resort. The Vegas production is the only other Avenue Q run outside of New York.

Performances of the Nevada run began Aug. 27, playing a 10-show-per-week schedule (with two dark nights), using two altnernating casts. The curtain rises twice a night at 6:30 PM and 10 PM.

Original Broadway cast members Tartaglia (who plays Princeton and Rod) and Lyon (who handles Nicky, Trekkie Monster and more) are joined in the cast by Angela Ai (as Christmas Eve), David Benoit (Nicky, Trekkie Monster, et al.), Steven Booth (ensemble), Minglie Chen, Tonya Dixon (Gary Coleman), Rita Dolphin (Mrs. T. and others), Natalie Gray (Christmas Eve), Phyre Hawkins (ensemble), Nicholas Kohn (Brian), Michelle Lane (ensemble), Kevin Noonchester (ensemble), Brynn O'Malley (Kate Monster, Lucy, et al.), Cole Porter (Brian), Jonathan Root (Princeton and Rod), Kelli Sawyer (Kate Monster, Lucy, et al.), Sharon Wheatley (Mrs. T. and others) and Haneefah Wood (Gary Coleman). The cast is split into two groups — the Blue Bear and Yellow Bear cast (named for the show's Bad Idea Bears).

The 2004 Tony Award winner for Best Musical, 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 as it tells the story of recent college grad Princeton's making it out in the real world. The production bears the warning: "Full puppet nudity, not suitable for children."



The show's creators Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx earned a Tony for their score as did bookwriter Jeff Whitty and the musical itself garnered the top prize as Best Musical at the 2004 Tony Awards. Jason Moore (Steel Magnolias) directed with musical direction by Gary Adler (Altar Boyz).

Avenue Q features puppets conceived and designed by Rick Lyon. Musical supervision is by Stephen Oremus and choreography is handled by Ken Roberson. The design team includes Anna Louizos (scenic), Mirena Rada (costume), lighting Howell Binkley (lighting) and Acme Sound Partners (sound).

Of the new run, designer Louizos told Playbill.com "We're going to enhance a few things: more fog for the dream sequence, the beds are gonna fly out slightly differently for the Rod and Nicky fantasy number, we're gonna have a 'star drop' for that number, as well. We'll also punch up the bar area for the bar scene. A few more bells and whistles, but we all realized this show works the way it is and we don't wanna fuss with that."

A few minor book and score changes were made to better suit the Vegas audience; New York-based MetroCard and Lotto references were cut, showgirl-esque Lucy The Slut now slinks around a stripper pole and "The Money Song" was trimmed.

The puppet and people-populated musical — which recouped its initial Broadway investment last year — currently plays at the John Golden Theatre with five original cast members (Jennifer Barnhart, Natalie Venetia Belcon, Jordan Gelber, Ann Harada and Tony Award-nominated Stephanie D'Abruzzo) joined by Barrett Foa and Christian Anderson.

Tickets for Avenue Q at the Wynn, 3131 Las Vegas Blvd. South in Las Vegas, NV are available by phone or online at (702) 770-7000, toll free (888) 320 7123 or www.wynnlasvegas.com. For more information on the show, visit www.avenueq.com.