“Avenue Q” shocks and delights audiences

By: Meredith Francis ~Campus News Editor~

Xavier University Theatre’s spring musical “Avenue Q” provides a hilarious two-hour look into the lives of puppets and humans exploring the post-college world.

The musical centers around Princeton, played by Patrick Phillips, and his new life after graduation living on Avenue Q — a less-than-ideal street for a brightfaced, eager young puppet out to find his purpose. The story follows other characters that live on Avenue Q, including Princeton’s romantic interest Kate Monster, played by Maya Farhat.

Both Phillips and Farhat are perfect in their roles, never failing to bring both energy and comedic timing to their every moment on stage. Phillips truly becomes his puppet alter ego, incorporating tremendous enthusiasm and great physicality into his puppet. Farhat’s Kate Monster is likeable, sweet and funny, with vocal talent that is truly Broadway-worthy.

The humor goes beyond the leads, however. Alex Spindler and Nick Sherman as the quarrelling roommates Nicky and Rod make for a hysterical comedic duo. Rod, a sometimes grumpy and closeted gay puppet, often finds himself struggling to tolerate the fun-loving, often invasive Nicky.AQ2

Spindler’s rendition of “If You Were Gay” is flawless and comical, while Sherman’s “My Girlfriend Who Lives in Canada” is so great it is sometimes hard to hear the humorous lyrics over the audience’s laughter.

The show also features supplementary puppets, including Trekki Monster (Griff Bludworth) and the Bad Girl and Boy Bears (Ellen Godbey and Ryan O’Toole), that add great moments to the show. Trekki Monster’s appearance in “The Internet is for Porn” is irreverent in all the right ways. However, you might not want to watch that song, nor “You Can Be as Loud as the Hell You Want (When You’re Makin’ Love),” if you’re sitting next to your parents. Warning: puppet “nudity” is also a player in this show.

All puppet-toting actors should be commended for their impressive work. Their work is so believable and authentic that the audience may sometimes forget that there is a real person operating them.AQ3

But the actors sans-puppet are also great. Hannah Sheppard as Gary Coleman (yes, that Gary Coleman) and Lydia Reagan as Christmas Eve perform their intentionally stereotypical roles with great comedic timing and maturity.

The technical aspects of the show also add to the comedy. Dave Zlatic’s set design includes a series of opening windows that allow puppets to humorously pop in and out of view in “The Internet is for Porn.” The set also includes projector images that supplement the dialogue and action of the show.

Though there were a few technical and vocal snafus on opening night, the cast and crew handled minor issues with poise. Though a comedy on the surface, “Avenue Q” provides commentary about issues of race, sexuality and other social issues. Though the songs “Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist” and “Schadenfreude” are toe-tapping, they reveal a darkly humorous truth about human nature.

“Avenue Q” is a must-see musical theater performance. Even for a person unfamiliar with musical theater, this “Sesame Street” reminiscent parody will leave the audience laughing for hours after the final bow. The final three performances will be at 7:30 p.m. from April 10 to 12 in the Gallagher Student Center Theatre.

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