The people and puppets who comprise the company of AVENUE Q -- one of the most entertaining and captivating musicals in recent memory - packed bag and baggage, costumes, wigs, props, make-up and a trunk full of songs and moved from their hit run Off-Broadway to the John Golden Theatre (252 W. 45 St.) on Broadway, it was announced recently by producers Kevin McCollum, Robyn Goodman and Jeffrey Seller.
AVENUE Q began previews on Broadway on July 11, with Opening Night set for July 31.
A runaway critical and popular success at the Vineyard Theatre -- where AVENUE Q was extended four times by popular demand, and ended its engagement May 11 -- the musical is the creation of a host of talented newcomers: music and lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, book by Jeff Whitty, puppets conceived and designed by Rick Lyon, choreographed by Ken Roberson, directed by Jason Moore.
Described as "the place you live when you can't afford to live anyplace else," AVENUE Q is set on a street in New York City where people and puppets live as neighbors and deal with some of life's most thorny issues: romance, sex, money, career, rent and other matters unmentionable. In his review of AVENUE Q, Ben Brantley in The New York Times wrote of the show's catchy score, "The musical numbers are frighteningly infectious and savvy in adapting everything from Top 40 hits to nightclub standards."
Producers Robyn Goodman (METAMORPHOSES, OUR LADY OF 121ST STREET), Kevin McCollum and Jeffrey Seller (RENT, LA BOHEME, DE LA GUARDA), have developed AVENUE Q from its early readings at BMI through a workshop last summer at the Eugene O'Neill Conference and its Off-Broadway debut, a co-production of the Vineyard Theatre and The New Group.
Featured in the cast of AVENUE Q are Jennifer Barnhart, Natalie Venetia Belcon, Stephanie D'Abruzzo, Alexander Gemignani, Ann Harada, Rick Lyon and John Tartaglia, along with their puppet co-horts Princeton, Kate Monster, Nicky, Rod, Trekkie Monster, Lucy T. Slut and Mrs. Thistletwat.
While the John Golden Theatre is one of Broadway's most renowned stages for plays -- with productions including VINCENT IN BRIXTON, Edward Albee's THE GOAT, SIDE MAN and CRIMES OF THE HEART -- the theatre has also been home to many memorable musicals such as the long-running FALSETTOS and A DAY IN HOLLYWOOD/A NIGHT IN THE UKRAINE. In fact, the history books show that when the Golden opened in 1927, the very first production on its stage was, oddly enough, a play called PUPPETS OF PASSION.
AVENUE Q's Broadway performances run Mondays-Saturdays at 8:00pm; plus Wednesday and Saturday matinees at 2:00pm. Tickets are $20-$45-$85 for all performances. For reservations, call Telecharge at 212-239-6200/800-432-7250; online at www.telecharge.com.
AVENUE Q, which began previews Off-Broadway on February 20th and opened March 20th, received some of the best reviews of the season, with a sampling of quotes below:
o "Inspired. The first mainstream musical since RENT to coo with such seductive directness to theatergoers on the fair side of 40 in their own language. A pitch-perfect ensemble of live performers and oversize hand puppets." ~ Ben Brantley, New York Times
o "A smart, funny urban musical. A wonderful show. This is a musical whose originality is matched by the genius of its creators and performer." ~ Donald Lyons, New York Post
o "Delightful and inspired. Appealing characters and devilishly clever songs supported by a fully-realized coming-of-age plot." ~ Robert Dominguez, Daily News
o "RENT meets SESAME STREET. A clever and good-hearted musical comedy." ~ David Cote, Time Out New York
o "An uproarious new musical. Wicked fun. The most fun onstage so far this year." ~ The New Yorker
o "AVENUE Q floats along merrily on its melodies. And what's more, those puppets really know how to sing them." ~ Michael Kuchwara, Associated Press
o "For all its agreeably goofy humor, AVENUE Q is something wiser and more meaningful than a simple spoof. The air is sweet in this neighborhood." ~ Elysa Gardner, USA Today
o "Welcome to the deliciously demented world of AVENUE Q. As they sing, dance, and impart lessons on such improbable subjects as porn and homosexuality, you realize you'll never look at puppets the same way again." ~ Melissa Rose Bernardo, Entertainment Weekly