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Avenue Q

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The original cast

Avenue Q is a Broadway musical that mixes the likes of puppeteering and acting together on stage. It bases itself on a street where puppets and humans alike live together. It included in its original cast several veteran Muppeteers, including John Tartaglia, Stephanie D'Abruzzo, Rick Lyon and Jennifer Barnhart. It is a post-modern and Generation X-themed takeoff on Sesame Street.

The show won three Tony Awards in 2004 including the Tony Award for "Best Musical" and received a Grammy award nomination for Best Musical Show Album, and is currently the twenty-fifth longest running show on Broadway.

Ed Christie, the NY Muppet Workshop Manager at the time reports: "After the workshop (pre-Broadway) performances of Avenue Q, the Henson company held a meeting with Jeff Marx and Bobby Lopez and Rick Lyon. The Henson reps tried to get a handle on the intentions of the show and tried to discourage the Avenue Q team from using their "Muppety" designs - so close to the copyrighted designs that they (Henson) had developed over the past 35 years (and Mr. Lyon was exposed to, as he was one of their puppeteers). The Avenue Q group refused to back down - claiming that they were protected under the parody laws (like Saturday Night Live is). Lopez, Marx and Lyon explained that the show would not be successful if the characters did not resemble the characters they were spoofing. Lawyers for Henson and Sesame Workshop were able to come to an agreement with the Avenue Q group. Rick Lyon built the characters as he wished and Avenue Q made it to Broadway."

The show opened on Broadway in New York City in Summer 2003. It closed on September 13, 2009 and moved to New World Stages six weeks later where it continues to run as a Off-Broadway production. In 2005, Avenue Q opened in a larger theater in Las Vegas, Nevada, although its run there has since ended. Another production began in London's West End in June 2006 (with Nigel Plaskitt as "puppet consultant", to teach the cast puppetry [1]) It closed on October 30 2010. A UK tour is set for 2011. A Swedish adaptation of the show premiered February 16, 2007, on Maximteatern in Stockholm, as the first non-English version of the show. The show closed December 2007 and was replaced by a tour during the fall of 2008. The Finnish adaptation premiered February 23, 2007. The show has also been adapted in Israel, Italy (2009), Mexico (2010), Philippines, Singapore, Spain (2010), Fredericia theater in Denmark (October 13 to November 13, 2011).

A slightly less edgy version of the show premiered in 2008 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Cheryl Blaylock, a native of Kalamazoo, taught the cast puppetry and was named "Artist-in-Residence."[2] For regional and community theatre productions, individual productions will have the option for rental of puppets from MTI with the likeness of the original Rick Lyon puppets, or they may build and create their own. Another version of the show for schools, titled Avenue Q: School Edition features toned down sexual content and language, with songs such as "The Internet is for Porn" being replaced with "My Social Life is Online."

Muppet Mentions

  • One of the musical's songs is called "Mix Tape". In this song, Princeton (originally played by John Tartaglia) gives Kate Monster (originally played by Stephanie D'Abruzzo) a mix tape, on which one of the songs is "Movin' Right Along."
  • On May 4, 2010, the current cast created a video of them performing Queen's "We Will Rock You" and "We Are the Champions" in a response to the hit "Bohemian Rhapsody" viral video, and includes a brief audio snippet from the performance.

References

Connections

  • John Tartaglia played Princeton/Rod in the original Broadway cast.
  • Stephanie D'Abruzzo played Kate Monster/Lucy the Slut in the original Broadway cast.
  • Rick Lyon played Nicky/Trekkie Monster/Bear in the original Broadway cast. He also built the original Avenue Q puppets and continues to build the puppets for almost every Avenue Q production.
  • Jennifer Barnhart played Mrs. Thistletwat/Bear and understudied Kate Monster/Lucy the Slut in the original Broadway cast. She stayed with the Broadway production until it closed on September 13, 2009.
  • Peter Linz was an understudy for Princeton/Rod, Nicky/Trekkie/Bear, and Brian in the original Broadway cast.
  • Leo Daignault was an understudy for Nicky/Trekkie/Bear, and Brian in the original Broadway cast.
  • Anders Öjebo played Brian in the Swedish adaptation.
  • Linus Wahlgren played Nicky in the 2008 tour in Sweden.
  • Peter Nørgaard played Nicky in the Danish adoptation

Sources

  1. Nigel Plaskitt's CV, "[1]
  2. Judith Cookis Rubens, "Kalamazoo hosts community-theater debut of 'Avenue Q'", PrideSource, January 17, 2008.

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