By The Numbers: How Many Puppets Actually Take the Stage During a Performance of Avenue Q?

Special Features   By The Numbers: How Many Puppets Actually Take the Stage During a Performance of Avenue Q?
 
Get a behind-the-scenes look at the multiple puppets needed for every character in this Tony-winning musical.
Puppeteer-performers Ben Durocher and Jason Jacoby with Rod and Nicky puppets.
Puppeteer-performers Ben Durocher and Jason Jacoby with Rod and Nicky puppets. Marc J. Franklin

In Avenue Q, you'll only see one performer voicing and operating characters like Kate Monster and Princeton, but multiple puppets—all conceived and designed by Rick Lyon—are required for each character over the course of the full-length show. In addition to the neighbors played by humans (like Brian, Christmas Eve, and superintedant Gary Coleman), the Tony-winning Best Musical follows Princeton (portrayed in puppet form) as he strikes out on his own in New York City on a mission to find his purpose and many of his building-mates on the cheap faux outerborough street are puppets, too. Written by Jeff Whitty with music and lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, the 2004 Tony winner transferred Off-Broadway to New World Stages in 2010 and took its puppet entourage with it. You see, costume changes are easy enough for people, but with puppet construction, a new costume often means a whole new puppet.

So which character in Avenue Q requires the most puppets? Playbill takes a deep dive into the variety of puppets that comprise the otherwise inanimate cast Avenue Q to answer that question.

Below the residents of Avenue Q show off their situational iterations following an ascending order from the least puppets needed for each character to the most.


The One-Offs

Mrs. T, New Comer, Bad Idea Bears, and Ricky
Mrs. T, New Comer, Bad Idea Bears, and Ricky

Some of the show’s supporting characters only require one puppet. That includes Mrs. T, the New Comer, the Bad Idea Bears, and Ricky.

Three: Trekkie Monster

Avenue_Q_Puppets_HR
Trekkie Monster Marc J. Franklin

No, you’re not seeing triple. Avenue Q uses three separate Trekkie Monsters for the internet-loving monster. The Trekkie front and center features a snazzy bow-tie for a special occasion in the musical. (Most of the Avenue Q characters have clothing appropriate for a certain celebration.) The other two look quite similar, and that's because they are; the twin Trekkies allow the character to quickly appear at different locations onstage.

Four: Lucy

Avenue Q_Puppets_Lucy_HR

Avenue Q's cleavage boasting Lucy the Slut requires no less than four separate puppets. Above you can see her performance costume, her after-the-show robe, a daytime look, and her most dramatic iteration, in a hospital bed with a bandaged head.

Five: Kate Monster

Avenue_Q_Puppets_HR
Kate Monster Marc J. Franklin

This photo shows three iterations of Avenue Q's resident schoolteacher Kate Monster above, but there are actually five puppets that make up her total performance. On the left, Kate dresses for the aforementioned special occasion. The other looks are two of Kate’s everyday ensembles.

Five: Rod

Avenue_Q_Puppets_HR
Rod Marc J. Franklin

The totally-not-gay-but-musical-theatre-loving Rod has five puppets, two of which you can see above. On the left is his typical look, while on the right he is decked out and fancy free, complete with yarmulke.

Five: Nicky

Avenue_Q_Puppets_HR
Nicky Marc J. Franklin

Rod’s roommate Nicky also requires five separate puppets. And like Trekkie Monster, Nicky often requires two puppeteers to make him come to life. His typical look sits on the right, and his special occasion duds on the left. Nicky cleans up well—make sure to note his lack of facial hair when he’s dressed up.

And the winner is...

Seven: Princeton

Avenue_Q_Puppets_HR
Princeton Marc J. Franklin

It should come as no surprise that Avenue Q's protagonist requires the most puppets of any character: seven. The show takes Princeton from his college graduation day, to living on his own for the first time, to a black tie celebration, and more.

Wondering which performer operates the most puppets? That distinction goes to one of the ensemble tracks, currently played by Kerri Brackin, who touches every single puppet in the show as the “second hander.”

Logan Culwell-Block is a musical theatre historian, Playbill's manager of research, and curator of Playbill Vault. @loganculwell

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