Av­enue Q

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT -

Win­nipeg Stu­dio Theatre RMTC Ware­house, to April 13 $25-$35 at www.mtc.mb/wst

out of five the door. The poster boy for ar­rested de­vel­op­ment is Prince­ton, whom we first see wear­ing a grad­u­a­tion cap and gown and ask­ing in song, What Do You Do with a B.A. in English? He started look­ing for an apart­ment on Av­enue A and could only find a place on run­down Av­enue Q, where ap­par­ently mil­len­nial dreams go to die. When he gets down­sized even be­fore he starts his me­nial of­fice job, he breaks into It Sucks to Be Me. He is im­me­di­ately joined in his mu­si­cal lament by his neigh­bours: Brian, a failed comic; his un­suc­cess­ful ther­a­pist girl­friend Christ­mas Eve; Kate Monster, the good girl with big dreams but no money; and self-ac­knowl­edged has-been Gary Cole­man, for­mer chi­ild star of TV’s Diff’rent Strokes. Also in his apart­ment are Repub­li­can in­vest­ment banker Rod, strug­gling with his un­de­clared ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity, and his room­mate/free­loader Nicky, as well as creepy, horned Trekkie Monster. The kick of the show is the shock of watch­ing pup­pets singing ob­scen­i­ties and be­hav­ing badly. The catchy songs — in­clud­ing Ev­ery­one’s a Lit­tle Bit Racist, I’m Not Wear­ing Un­der­wear To­day and The In­ter­net is for Porn — re­main fresh and in­fec­tious. An un­seen five-piece band led by con­duc­tor Paul De­Gurse of­fered fine ac­com­pa­ni­ment. Di­rec­tor Kayla Gor­don has as­sem­bled an all-Win­nipeg cast with­out a weak link. The rap­port be­tween flesh and felt is fas­ci­nat­ing to watch, es­pe­cially be­tween leads Aaron Hut­ton as preppy Prince­ton and the sweet-voiced Paula Po­to­sky as whole­some Kate Monster. Their Long Is­land Tea par­ty­turned-amorous frenzy brought down the house. Dorothy Car­roll is sen­sa­tional as the vamp­ish Lucy the Slut, who comes — no, sashays — be­tween the lovers. Dar­ren Martens is a hoot when his gruff-voiced Trekkie Monster hi­jacks The In­ter­net is for Porn num­ber from Kate. Car­roll and Martens also team up as the out­ra­geous Bad Idea Bears, evil but in­no­cent-look­ing teddy bears who take ad­van­tage of emo­tion­ally com­pro­mised char­ac­ters by cheer­fully sug­gest­ing ex­ces­sive drink­ing, promis­cu­ity and sui­cide. Some of the pup­pets are an­i­mated by one ac­tor, while some take a sec­ond’s help­ing hand. A scene with a cho­rus of talk­ing brown boxes boasted chore­og­ra­phy by Brenda Gor­lick wor­thy of the Royal Win­nipeg Bal­let. Three of the char­ac­ters — Brian (Jeremy Koz), Christ­mas Eve (An­drea Ma­casaet) and Gary Cole­man (Lisa Bell) — are por­trayed with­out pup­pets. Ma­casaet ex­celled as the bossy Christ­mas Eve, and killed with her ren­di­tion of The More You Ruv Some­one. Aaron Prid­ham, the only holdover from the pre­vi­ous Av­enue Q, of­fered a poignant por­trayal of Rod, a man fight­ing to find the key that will let him­self out of the closet. The only false note of the two-hour show comes late, when the cre­ators at­tempt an up­lift­ing end­ing, declar­ing that the prob­lems and dis­sat­is­fac­tions of the young people are only For Now. That might be ac­cepted by view­ers of Se­same Street but is is hard to swal­low by those in the au­di­ence of Av­enue Q — deeply in­debted, over-ed­u­cated and un­der-em­ployed.

LEIF NOR­MAN

From left, Dora Bee, Dar­ren Martens, Paula Po­to­sky and Aaron Prid­ham make funny with the pup­pets in Av­enue Q.

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