A Whole New Purpose: Avenue Q Will Re-Open — Off-Broadway
By Kenneth Jones
News of the New York City death of Avenue Q has been greatly exaggerated. At the final Broadway performance of the Tony Award-winning musical comedy Sept. 13, producer Kevin McCollum announced that the show will resume performances Off-Broadway on Oct. 9.
Tickets for this well-kept secret are already on sale. Casting will be announced. The musical about twentysomethings struggling with their place in the world (a world populated by humans and puppets) will play the 499-seat venue in the New World Stages complex, at 50th and Eighth Avenue.
A hit Broadway show shutting down and reopening Off-Broadway is extremely rare. The show began its life Off-Broadway, at the Vineyard Theatre, and moved to Broadway's John Golden Theatre in 2003 to win the Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book Tony Awards (besting Wicked in that race).
The musical will be produced at New World Stages by Kevin McCollum, Robyn Goodman, Jeffrey Seller, The Vineyard Theatre and The New Group (just as they did on Broadway), according to a statement released at 10 PM Sept. 13.
"Research indicates that this transfer is unprecedented, marking the first time that a Broadway musical has, indeed, moved to an Off-Broadway theatre," according to the producers' press office.
McCollum said in a statement, "Avenue Q is about all of us, so why should it close? People arrive in New York every day hoping to make their dreams come true, so as long as they're here, we're here! It's just one of the funniest, wittiest and wisest musicals ever written and the more you see it, the more you love it."
Avenue Q features music and lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, a book by Jeff Whitty and direction by Jason Moore.
Off-Broadway, the musical will play Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 8 PM, Saturdays at 2 and 8 PM and Sundays at 3 and 7:30 PM. Tickets will range in price from $86.50 to $66.50.
For tickets, visit www.telecharge.com or visit www.avenueq.com.
Avenue Q ended its six-year Broadway run after the Sept. 13 7 PM performance at the John Golden Theatre.
The puppet-friendly musical about young men, women and their furry friends searching for purpose while exploring the ups and downs of life played 22 previews and 2,534 performances.
After an acclaimed Off-Broadway run at the Vineyard Theatre, Avenue Q began previews at Broadway's Golden Theatre July 10, 2003, and officially opened July 31. The original cast included Jennifer Barnhart, Stephanie D'Abruzzo, Jordan Gelber, Ann Harada, Rick Lyon, John Tartaglia and Natalie Venetia Belcon.
Original cast member Barnhart remained for the show's entire run. Ann Harada, who triumphed as Christmas Eve, recently returned to the production for the final weeks. The last Broadway cast also includes Anika Larsen (Xanadu; All Shook Up; Rent; Shafrika, the White Girl) as Kate Monster/Lucy the Slut, Robert McClure (I'm Not Rapport) as Princeton/Rod, Danielle K. Thomas as Gary Coleman, Christian Anderson as Trekkie Monster and Nicholas Kohn as Brian with ensemble members Minglie Chen and Seth Rettberg.
In a recent statement producer Robyn Goodman said, "We will miss our furry friends on 45th Street but are very proud of their longevity."
Capitalized at $3.5 million, Avenue Q recouped its full investment in ten months on Broadway. As of June 21, the musical had grossed $117,009,852 and had returned $23,500,000 to its investors to date. Major productions have also played Las Vegas, London, Australia and the road.
Puppets were conceived and designed by original cast member Rick Lyon. The production has musical supervision by Stephen Oremus, choreography by Ken Roberson, scenic design by Anna Louizos, costume design by Mirena Rada, lighting design by Howell Binkley and sound design by Acme Sound Partners.
The musical won 2004 Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical (Jeff Whitty) and Best Original Score (Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx).
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