Andrew Tomlins (West End Frame)...left the theatre bursting with joy
Marking the third production of Avenue Q that I have seen within the past twelve months, Sell A Door have launched Robert Lopez, Jeff Marx and Jeff Whitty's musical at the Greenwich Theatre ahead of a UK Tour.
Avenue Q follows a group of neighbours who are facing the issues and anxieties associated with entering adulthood. As the show progresses the characters begin to discover who they are and what their purpose is in life. Sesame Street style puppets perform alongside real people, creating a unique but strong recipe for a musical.
I seem to love Avenue Q more and more every time I see it; the show isn’t about big sets or huge production numbers, its success is down to clever, outrageous writing and strong casting. The score is tremendous, I find it impossible to pick a favourite number and it's always hilarious to watch the faces of those who are unfamiliar with the show - it's not every day you watch a musical which features musical numbers such as 'Everyone's a Little Bit Racist' and 'The Internet Is for Porn'.
Avenue Q is outrageously funny from beginning to end. However, if you are easily offended this is not the show for you. One bedroom scene in particular never fails to bring the house down - I didn't know it was possible for puppets to do such things!
The stars of the show are Tom Steedon who doesn't put a foot wrong as Princeton/Rod and Stephen Arden as Nicky/Trekkie Monster. Steedon's rendition of 'Purpose' provided a huge stand out moment, which is interesting as the song has never stuck out for me before. He effortlessly switched between the two roles throughout the show and always performed with such composure. Arden gives a hysterical performance; the range of voices he produces is extraordinary!
Lucie-Mae Sumner shines as Kate Monster/Lucy the Slut. Usually 'There's a Fine, Fine Line' is a stand out moment in Avenue Q, but something seemed to be missing from Sumner's rendition. However, her performance of 'Special' was incredible, her vocal control is superb. There are several scenes during which Sumner has to voice both Kate and Lucy (the two characters couldn't be more different) and, whilst this must be hugely challenging, she makes it look very easy. Her comic timing is impeccable and she has strong chemistry with her fellow cast mates.
Vocally Jacqueline Tate is the strongest Christmas Eve I have ever seen and Ellena Vincent has strong stage presence as Gary Coleman. The entire cast work so hard, racing on and off stage with various puppets and props, but things seem to run smoothly.
With a reference to the current tube strike, Avenue Q remains relevant and the young, fresh cast breathe new life into it. It's not just about the comedy, Avenue Q has heart. 'I Wish I Could Go Back To College' and 'For Now' are two of my all-time favourite musical theatre songs.
Avenue Q is identifiable - everybody knows a 'Rod' or a 'Lucy'. I was a little apprehensive about seeing Avenue Q again, but loved every second and left the theatre bursting with joy.