Understudy Takes Handle of Princeton and Rod Puppets for Broadway's Avenue Q

Howie Michael Smith — who has understudied the role of Princeton and Rod for more than a year — will assume the legless torso twosome for Broadway's Avenue Q when current star Barrett Foa leaves.

Howie Michael Smith
Howie Michael Smith

Foa's final performance is July 2 and Smith takes the dual role reins July 3. Foa leaves Q to join the cast of Broadway's The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee July 25.

Smith makes his Broadway debut in Avenue Q. Among his regional credits are A Christmas Carol (Ford's Theatre), 1776 and Carousel (Marriott Theatre), As You Like It (Chicago Shakespeare), The Tempest (Dallas Shakespeare) and "Tribute to Sondheim" with George Hearn (Pittsburgh Pops).

The actor joins the current cast which features original stars Rick Lyon and Jennifer Barnhart with Mary Faber, Evan Harrington, Ann Sanders and Haneefah Wood. Jonathan Root and Matt Schreiber are in the ensemble.


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 and solving the mystery of the whereabouts of former "Diff'rent Strokes" child star Gary Coleman. 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 Best Musical prize at the 2004 Tony Awards.

Avenue Q plays at the Golden Theatre, 252 West 45 Street. For more information on the show and event, visit www.avenueq.com.

<i>Avenue Q</i>'s three leading men: (L-R) Barrett Foa, John Tartaglia and Howie Michael Smith.
Avenue Q's three leading men: (L-R) Barrett Foa, John Tartaglia and Howie Michael Smith.