It looks and sounds a lot like Sesame Street but Avenue Q ventures into territory a long way from the cute and snappy songs of a children’s television show. Avenue Q is an R rated musical comedy featuring puppets and human actors with music and lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx and book by Jeff Whitty. The titles of some of the songs give a good indication of some of the production’s themes. Songs included are “You Can Be as Loud as the Hell You Want (When You’re Makin’ Love)”, “I’m Not Wearing Underwear Today”, “The Internet Is for Porn”, and “If You Were Gay”. The enthusiastic audience clearly enjoyed themselves, laughed throughout the performance and energetically applauded songs and the show.
The fantastic cast sang and danced their way through the catchy numbers. The singing was impressive and the six piece band was equally accomplished. They occasionally drowned each other out and the lyrics were often hard to follow, especially when the singers were at full volume. The understated numbers were much clearer and easier to understand.
The show featured an excellent set, reminiscent of Sesame Street and was well used to create different spaces and avoid set changes.
Some of the material seems a little dated and does not quite hit the mark. The song “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist” is the most problematic. It is well intentioned but does not recognise that everyone’s experience of racism is not equal and white people do not experience the same systemic problems that other people experience. The song promotes the message that everyone should try to get along but that inherently glosses over entrenched cultural difficulties.
The cast includes Pete Davidson, Laura Dawson, Isaac Downey , Suzanne Chin , Kris Fenessy , Cam Ralph , Miriam Gonzaga , Luka Bozic , Stephanie Gray , Josie Lamb , Hayley Driscoll , and Jake Severino. The production team is director Peter Meredith, musical director Philip Eames and choreographer Laura Beth Wood. The band is made up of Peter Meredith, So Cho, Laura Power, Charlie Snedden, Jason Smith and Danny Bale.
Avenue Q is a North Shore Theatre Company production at the Independent Theatre, North Sydney and runs until 4th May.