All the muppet shows I’ve watched have been on television. Today I broke that trend after getting six friends to join me in watching Avenue Q. This winner for ‘best musical’ in the 2004 Tony Awards is a mish-mash of live actors and muppet characters, parodied against those whom we grew up watching in Sesame Street. Think of Avenue Q as a matured version of Sesame Street, for graduated alumni from the pre-teen generation. The language is unhibited, and the themes are obscenely reflective of life.
Purpose is the driving force of this show, as embodied in the main character’s (Princeton’s) quest to find meaning in his life after moving into the shambolic ‘avenue Q.’ You have all the quasi-eccentric characters around him — including a potential love-interest — to give this musical a feel-good atmosphere reminiscent of the tv show Friends.
Some friends were doubtful that the actors pulled off the singing and hand-acting so well, but I’m pretty sure they were all singing live. Avenue Q may not strike you as a compositional masterpiece like Phantom of the Opera, but its strength lies in the funny lyrics, especially when they’re filled with terms like ‘porn’ and ‘gay.’
From the first five minutes, I thought I’d gotten myself into an expensive live-audience telecast of Sesame Street, but as it went on, the more I felt it to be a great mode of art — communicating tough topics through screens such as comedy and puppets to give it a lighter edge. Avenue Q isn’t my favorite musical, but it’s a welcomed change in mood and delivery. The music is good and the show’s underlying themes are timeless (well, most will be). If you’re trying to go non-conformist and want to skip the crowd-favorites on Broadway, then Avenue Q might just be for you.