Darren Bluestone has been performing with Avenue Q for over two-and-a-half years and 1,000 performances. He rang in the show's big 10th anniversary and, most recently, took part in the musical's 11th birthday at New World Stages — where audience members and the cast interacted via social media throughout the July 31 evening performance. His ties to the musical, however, stretch back even longer.
"I was like 15, and I saw Avenue Q, and I was obsessed with it," Bluestone explained. "My best friend and I went — and we saw [songwriters] Bobby [Lopez] and Jeff [Marx] in the audience and asked for their autograph and their picture."
Following their New York City excursion — back home in Santa Fe, NM — the two recorded karaoke videos at the New Mexico State Fair, and through the powers of social media, began his journey to Avenue Q. "My best friend put up this video on YouTube of me singing 'Purpose' along to this sock puppet, [which was] terrible," he continued, "and I got a Facebook message from Jeff Marx my junior year of high school."
Marx said, "I just saw your video, you're adorable, you're so sweet. I'm so happy that you enjoyed Avenue Q." The two became quick pen pals, but lost touch during Bluestone's college years at Carnegie Mellon University. After graduation, and back in New York City — this time to pursue "the dream" — Bluestone landed the leading puppet track in Q, now under the resident direction of John Tartaglia, the show's Tony-nominated original leading man.
Bluestone said, "I told Johnny this story when he came on as our resident director, and he said, 'Oh my God, that's how I know you. Jeff Marx showed us this kid trying to sing "Purpose" when he was in high school and how adorable it was… That's how I recognize you. I've never met you before, but I've seen your video.' Of course that happened — I was a high-school kid and so obsessed with it, so it was wild — getting to be in the show.
"This unbelievable song that I'd known for so long — I was finally able to sing it with a puppet in the way that it's supposed to be sung, in the context that it's supposed to be sung," he continued. "It was amazing just to learn puppetry, to learn what it was like to be on that stage doing Q. It was such a whirlwind though because I learned the show in six days. I had six days of rehearsal, and then my first time running the show with lights, I had a half put-in, where half of the cast was there, so my first time 'running' the show was my first night. It was on Monday night, and it was f*cking insane, and then we collected for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS."
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