The musical has converted its marquee into a red, white and blue lobby for votes, filled with billboards that were "Paid for by the Friends of Avenue Q Committee to Win the 2004 Tony Award for Best Musical." (To view photos, click here.)
Decked out in red, white and blue balloons and streamers, John's Pizzeria looked like a political rally populated with producers, press, road presenters and others. Avenue Q producing partners Kevin McCollum, Robyn Goodman and Jeffrey Seller took to the stage to welcome guests before introducing the first of the special performances by the cast.
Tony Award nominee Stephanie D' Abruzzo led Kate Monster onstage while Rick Lyon had Nicky in tow for a number that was cut from the show. Many fans are already familiar with the song "Tear It Up and Throw It Away," where Nicky coerces Kate into ripping up a summons for jury duty. (Among the lyrics; Kate: Isn't it my civic duty?, Nicky: Oh, who gives a duty!)
McCollum, Goodman and Seller returned to the stage only to be interrupted by smaller, furrier versions of themselves (on the hands of Rick Lyon, Jennifer Barnhart and Tony Award nominee John Tartaglia.) Tartaglia, in an eerily accurate Seller voice, spoke about the actors going on strike because they wanted to show their versatility with numbers from other shows. After shooing off their human counterparts, the puppet Seller announced "The cast has decided they would like to do a tribute to the 2003-2004 Broadway season." He then introduced Lucy T. Slut (D' Abruzzo), who performed a torchy rendition of Fiddler on the Roof's "Far From the Home I Love" complete with "Special"/"Rose's Turn" touches.
Avenue Q resident Christmas Eve (Ann Harada) continued the performance by giving Trekkie Monster (Lyon) some advice on wooing women in her version of "Popular" from Wicked (which became "Popurar" with Eve's accent). The "La-La" lyrics in the song proved a favorite when sung "Ra-Ra." This number was followed up by Rod (Tartaglia) performing The Boy From Oz signature song "I Go To Rio." He was joined by the cast who sang backup, interpolating lines from other shows. The interjected lyrics included lines from Bombay Dreams' "Shakalaka Baby," Wonderful Town's "Christopher Street," Assassins' "Everybody's Got the Right," and Little Shop of Horrors' "Feed Me." The number ended with a button shout "Caroline, or Change!"
The final number involved Rod's trouble in picking a president for the "Rotary Club" election. (The unnamed candidates of which bear a resemblance to the Best Musical nominees.) The cast urged Rod to "Vote Your Heart," reminding him it's a "It's a secret ballot, no one has to know who you're voting for." The song, "Rod's Dilemma," is featured on a promotional CD that was given to attendees of the party along with campaign buttons that read "Don't Suck, Vote Q" and "Vote Your Heart."
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 were nominated for a Tony Award for their score as were bookwriter Jeff Whitty, director Jason Moore and stars John Tartaglia and Stephanie D' Abruzzo. The new musical garnered the show's sixth nomination for the top Best Musical prize.
Avenue Q plays at the Golden Theatre, 252 West 45 Street. For more information, visit www.avenueq.com.