There’s life outside of your student home

Queen’s Musical Theatre serves up gags and life lessons in Avenue Q.

A glimpse of the cast of Avenue Q.

As I sat across from the mock block of houses representing Avenue Q in Rotunda Theatre, I noticed the numbers on the doors: 64, 66, and 68. The second six in 66 had fallen ever so slightly, and now read 69. 

This hilariously on-the-nose metaphor sums up Queen’s Musical Theatre’s (QMT) vivacious, racy and humanistic performance. Avenue Q is a coming-of-age story that addresses and satirizes the anxieties surrounding adulthood. With songs like, ‘Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist’, ‘I’m Not Wearing Underwear Today’ and ‘The Internet is for Porn’ — there’s a little something for everyone.

It’s a sort of adult rendition of Sesame Street, though the similarities end at puppets and being located on a street. Much of the content of Avenue Q deals with the idea that things in life happen for a reason, often to lead us on an unexpected, yet great adventure. 

The show opens with Princeton, played by Bennett Penner, ArtSci ’19, arriving to Avenue Q to rent a room, as he can’t afford any better. A recent university graduate — in English Lit just like this reviewer — he’s attempting to make his way in life, until he gets fired before his first day of work. 

Princeton meets Kate Monster — played by Courtney Day, ArtSci ’19 — with whom he falls in love. They both have dreams to pursue, but also want to be together. 

Many of the musical pieces in the performance are reflections by characters on how and why their daily lives don’t match what they’d dreamed of when younger. The power of the constant lamentations is that the characters are united in this disappointment. 

It’s very easy to dream of things which may come in life and ignore what we already have around us. As Princeton shows when he breaks it off with Kate Monster, it can be very foolish to end thing’s in one’s life for the sake of fulfilling goals. 

Of all the social justice issues examined by the musical, including poverty, loans, marriage and homosexuality, the one that will strike a cord with many Queen’s students is racism. It sort of smacked me in the face how much I enjoyed a take on ethnicity that used both human and puppets to symbolize racial difference. In Avenue Q’s puppet world, there’s a race known as ‘monsters’, who’re subjected to slights and assumptions about character based on preconceptions which exist in the musical’s world.

I must admit that my experience with musicals is very limited. That being said, I never thought I’d leave a play dissatisfied because I wanted more. 

I hesitate to single out any one performer as I feel that would be a disservice to the rest. The puppets were never overburdened by their masters, which allowed them to become the object of sympathy, disgust and solidarity. 

 height=

For example, Nicky, played by Callum Lurie, ArtSci ’17, is a character who ends up homeless. It’s not as though Lurie wore dishevelled clothing — he wore the same muted black as the rest of the puppeteers — but when some emotion was needed that the script didn’t provide, you could rely on him to make it felt through puppetry. 

Each actor was able to make their puppet the star of the show in a realistic way. This further achieved the effect of commenting upon the duality of human interaction — in this case interactions occurred in both a puppet and a live action world — which I found intriguing and one of the best features of the production. 

Each one of the characters in the musical has a strong notion that some part of themselves is deficient. They’re all so preoccupied with what others might think of them that they opt instead to bottle their true selves inside. The play manages to capture this masking we do so brilliantly as students by having the characters exist both as puppets and as the puppeteers. 

Avenue Q taught me about inanity of preconceptions. It’s so easy to get caught up in some idea, some hopeful purpose and let that cloud your view of everything else, including the world and people around you. 

 

 

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.