Hello everyone! Today I’m sharing my review of the Avenue Q musical!
This was my penultimate musical of 2018, but although I wasn’t able to fit this review into my schedule before the start of the new year, I still wanted to write a review for it.
My review of Fiddler on the Roof, which was also one I saw in 2018, will be up next week!
So I saw Avenue Q at the Mercury Theater in Chicago’s Lakeview Neighborhood. I believe I saw a version of it years ago at the same theater as the area and the theater seemed really familiar, and I did really love it. The theater is quite small and intimate so it was great! The rows were about 16 seats across and maybe about 14 rows back. There was also a small balcony too. It was such a great space!
I went with a small group comprising of myself, my sister, and a few of her friends as well as her roommates. I had decided rather last minute to tag along with them and I managed to get a seat with them as well. The ticket buying process was sort of annoying as the website wouldn’t let me see all available seats. It only had the ability to cycle between a few select seats. I imagine since I was only looking for one seat it was trying to place me in a spot where there were already people on either side. One of my sister’s friends had previously had the same issue and she had called the box office to buy her ticket to be with the group so I had to do the same. Once I did, it was super easy but it was still sort of annoying that the website wasn’t as user friendly as I would like. Either way, it was still great service over the phone and I got my confirmation email very quickly.
There was a lot of cute shops in the area of the theater which were great to pass the time as there wasn’t a lot of places to wait in the building. There was a restaurant connected to the lobby but otherwise there was just a little bit of standing room. Eventually I did head to the theatre to start meeting up with the group, and once we were all together we headed in.
We were about 11 rows back on the right side of the row facing the stage. It was a great spot! It was closer to the back but still so close overall. As we settled into our seats we took a few photos and then the musical started!
I thoroughly enjoyed the musical. If you don’t know much about it the best way to describe it would perhaps be “Sesame Street for adults”. There’s puppets that look very familiar if you grew up watching the show, but the themes and jokes are much more familiar with life as a grown up. The best audience would be someone in their early or mid 20s, during that stage in life when you’re classified as an adult and perhaps just graduated college but not yet settled in a stable career and haven’t quite figured out the next steps yet or not confident in the steps you have taken.
The actors were amazing! As is usual for performances with puppets, those actors that are portraying humans act to the puppets they are meant to be interacting with while the humans behind the puppet mirror what is happening to their puppet. So the humans look at the eyes of the puppet when addressing the character and the actors holding the puppets either walk like the puppet character would, look in the same direction, and so on. For example the character of Christmas Eve is a human and when she interacted with Rod, a puppet, she spoke to the puppet rather than the human acting for Rod. When Kate Monster, a puppet, and Princeton, also a puppet, interacted the puppets faced each other and the humans faced the puppets.
I thought they did so very seamlessly. Even the actors that portrayed multiple puppets did a great job switching between characters, usually in the same scene. For example, the actor for Lucy was also an actor for one of the Bad Idea Bears and the actor for Trekkie was also a Bad Idea Bear I believe it was. I know the last time I saw it the actor for Kate Monster was also Lucy the Slut, so it seems to vary based on the cast and the production itself. Even so, the cast did their parts very well and it was fun to watch them do so many characters.
The music was incredible too, per usual. Even if you haven’t seen the musical, you might know a few of the major hits such as “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist” or “It Sucks to be Me” and so on. They’re really upbeat tempos and the notes are cheery although the messages and lyrics are perhaps not so much. That is where the acting really kicks in and the musical is just so fun to experience in person.
Fun story, there is a part of the musical that addresses how people in society always seem to think they’re special and more deserving than others. After the musical there was an older woman having the most absurd conversation (I don’t even remember what it was but it was so dumb) and smoking right where everyone was waiting at the valet stand. She and her group arrived after we did to request their car and when ours arrived (one of my sister’s roommates drove) she started loudly complaining about it! It’s hard to believe we were in the same room as she didn’t seem to have paid attention to the part where the musical explained that everyone is equal and decidedly not special. Gotta love it when the messages go over the audience’s head I suppose.
If you get the chance to see it, I do recommend it! At times it seems hard to believe that Avenue Q beat out Wicked for the Best musical award at the Tonys but both are amazing in their own ways and it’s clear that Avenue Q did deserve it with how it handled their own messages of acceptance, community, and optimism.
So there you have it! My Avenue Q musical review for you! Let me know if you’ve seen the musical or if this one has made it to your musical bucket list.
Thanks for reading!
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