Avenue Q

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Avenue Q
Avenue Q logo
Music Robert Lopez
Jeff Marx
Lyrics Robert Lopez
Jeff Marx
Book Jeff Whitty
Productions 2003 Broadway
2005 Las Vegas
2006 West End
2007 Stockholm
2007 Helsinki
2007 North American Tour
2007 Israel
2008 Royal Tunbridge Wells
2008 Mexico City
2008 Singapore
2009 Melbourne
2009 Brazil
2009 Cincinnati
2009 Budapest
2009 Istanbul
Awards Tony Award for Best Musical
Tony Award for Best Book
Tony Award for Best Original Score

Avenue Q is a musical conceived by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, who wrote the music and lyrics, and directed by Jason Moore. The book is by Jeff Whitty. The show was produced by and opened at the Off-Broadway Vineyard Theatre in March 2003. The production transferred to Broadway in July 2003 and won several Tony Awards, including the award for Best Musical. It is still running on Broadway and holds the position of 23rd longest running show in Broadway history. The show has spawned a 2005 Las Vegas production, a 2006 West End production and various international productions. A U.S. national tour began in July 2007 and will end in May 2009.

The show is largely inspired by (and is in the style of) Sesame Street: Most of the characters in the show are puppets (operated by actors onstage), the set depicts several tenements on a rundown street in an Outer Borough of New York City, both the live characters and puppet characters sing, and short animated video clips are played as part of the story.

Several characters are recognizably parodies of classic Sesame Street characters: for example, the roommates Rod and Nicky are versions of Sesame Street's Bert and Ernie, and Trekkie Monster is based on Cookie Monster. However, the characters are in their twenties and thirties and face adult problems instead of those faced by pre-schoolers, thus making the show more suited for the adults who grew up with Sesame Street. Four of the original cast members (John Tartaglia, Stephanie D'Abruzzo, Jennifer Barnhart and Rick Lyon) had worked on Sesame Street before.

The characters use profanity, and the songs concern adult themes. A recurring theme is the central character's search for a "purpose." Since the musical soundtrack for it was released, the song "The Internet Is for Porn" has become particularly popular on websites such as YouTube and can be downloaded for free from the official website. According to the official site, the musical is appropriate for both adults and mature teenagers.

Avenue Q was initially developed at the 2002 National Music Theatre Conference at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, Connecticut.


[edit] Background

The show is explicitly a homage to the PBS children's television program Sesame Street. Both Marx and puppet designer/original cast member Rick Lyon have worked for Sesame Street, as have the other puppeteers in the original cast. Unlike Sesame Street, Avenue Q openly addresses adult topics such as racism, pornography, and homosexuality; in fact, because of its adult language and content and "full puppet nudity" (including puppet sex), the show specifically disclaims any connection to either Sesame Workshop (formerly known as the Children's Television Workshop) or The Jim Henson Company. In an interview with Britain's The Times, addressing the question of potential conflicts with Henson, Marx claimed, “During early previews in the States we invited Jim Henson's widow and children and they could see that what we were doing was a homage and love letter to 'Sesame Street.'”[1]

The characters who are not puppets relate to the puppets, rather than to the actors holding them. The puppets also speak directly to each other and never to the actors operating them (although at the end of "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist", Gary Coleman puts his hands on the shoulders of Kate Monster's puppeteer). During the course of the show, a puppet character may be operated by more than one of the actor-operators, although the same actor creates the voice for a particular puppet even if he or she is not holding the puppet at the time. The puppeteers wear nondescript black/gray clothing while the puppets and the three human characters (Brian, Christmas Eve and Gary Coleman) are dressed in bright colors.

[edit] Plot overview

[edit] Setting

As stated in the Broadway Playbill, the scene is a fictional street located "in an outer-outer borough of New York City." Manhattan, the center of New York City, has Avenues A, B, C, and D, making up the Alphabet City neighborhood (now considered part of the East Village). Alternately, Avenue Q could be in the Midwood and Gravesend area of Brooklyn, where there are also Avenues A, B, C, etc. all the way up to Avenue Z, with a few exceptions. One of the exceptions is Avenue Q; the street between Avenue P and Avenue R is known as Quentin Road, named for Quentin Roosevelt, the youngest son of President Theodore Roosevelt. The Q subway train, whose symbol used to be a Q in an orange circle resembling the Avenue Q logo, travels through this neighborhood. However, the authors have stated that Avenue Q is fictional and is not related to this or any other particular street.

[edit] Act One

Princeton, a recent college graduate, is looking for an affordable apartment in New York City, while trying to find his purpose in life ("What Do You Do with a BA in English"). At Avenue Q, he meets a group of neighbors: Kate Monster, a single assistant kindergarten teacher; Nicky and Rod, two long-time roommates; Brian, an unemployed comedian; Christmas Eve, Brian's Japanese fiancée, who is a therapist but has no clients; and Gary Coleman, former child star of the TV show Diff'rent Strokes, now the apartment superintendent. They all complain about their lives ("It Sucks to Be Me"), and all agree that Gary's life sucks the most. Princeton takes an apartment, and everyone welcomes him to the block.

One afternoon Rod finds himself alone and begins reading his favorite book, "Broadway Musicals of the 1940s," when he is interrupted by Nicky, who wants to share a story about a gay man he met on the subway. Rod gets defensive at the mention of homosexuality, and Nicky assures his roommate that he would have no problem accepting Rod "If You Were Gay."

The job that Princeton had lined up is eliminated, sending him on a search for his purpose in life. He finds a penny minted in his birthyear — a lucky omen ("Purpose"). Everyone explains their purpose in life, while Gary is afraid he has already fulfilled his purpose and from that point it will be a slow walk to the grave. Kate says that she wants to open a school especially for monsters. When Princeton asks whether she and Trekkie Monster are related, Kate is offended at the implication that all monsters must be related, calling him racist. Princeton notes that her dream of a monster school is also exclusionary. Everyone comes in to join the song and reveal their own prejudices, agreeing that "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist." Afterwards, Princeton is approached by the Bad Idea Bears, two innocent-looking cuddly teddy bears who distract him from finding his purpose and convince him to spend the money he got from his parents on a case of beer.

Kate receives a phone call from her boss, the unpleasant, humorless Mrs. Thistletwat, telling her that she has heart replacement surgery the next day and needs Kate to teach the morning class, allowing her to teach on whatever subject she likes. Kate, excited at the opportunity, plans to teach about the Internet, but Trekkie Monster cuts in claiming that the Internet is only good for pornography. Kate claims that the Internet can be used for other things besides porn, but Trekkie Monster calls upon the other men of Avenue Q who all agree that the Internet is, in fact, for porn ("The Internet is for Porn"). Princeton comes over to deliver a mix tape, confirming her suspicions that he has a crush on her ("Mix Tape"). Princeton invites Kate to the Around the Clock Café (a well-known East Village haunt) that night.

At the café, Brian performs the opening act ("I'm Not Wearing Underwear Today") and introduces Lucy the Slut, who sings "Special." Kate refrains from drinking at first, as she has her important teaching assignment in the morning, but the Bad Idea Bears suggest that they have some "harmless" Long Island Iced Teas (Absinthe Daiquiris in the London show) and play drinking games. While Kate retrieves a round of drinks, Lucy tells Princeton that when he's ready for a real woman, she'll be around. The Bad Idea Bears convince Princeton to take the tipsy Kate home and have sex; unbeknownst to them, Brian and Christmas Eve are also having sex. Other tenants ask Gary Coleman to tell the wild lovers to quiet down, but Gary refuses, since "You Can Be as Loud as the Hell You Want (When You're Makin' Love)." A sleepless Rod hears Nicky talking in his sleep about his love for Rod, who is jubilant that his secret crush is mutual. However, he wakes to discover that it was he who had been dreaming and is left heartbroken. At the same time, as Kate and Princeton happily lie in bed, Princeton gives Kate his lucky penny to let her know how much she means to him ("Fantasies Come True").

The next day, Mrs. Thistletwat calls: Kate has missed the morning class that she was supposed to teach. Mrs. Thistletwat dismisses all monsters as lazy. Angry, Kate quits her job before Mrs. Thistletwat can fire her. Princeton asks Kate to be his girlfriend and to accompany him to Brian and Christmas Eve's wedding. At the wedding, the neighbors ask Nicky whether Rod is gay. Nicky confirms that Rod is a "closeted homosexual"; Rod overhears him and vehemently denies this – they simply have not met "My Girlfriend Who Lives in Canada." Deeply hurt, Rod throws Nicky out of their apartment. Princeton, scared of commitment after witnessing the wedding, breaks up with Kate, asking her to be friends. Kate, hurt and defiant, sings "There's a Fine, Fine Line."

[edit] Act Two

Princeton sits alone in his apartment two weeks later. He is in debt, unemployed, alone, and still purposeless. As the Bad Idea Bears suggest that Princeton hang himself, the neighbors take Princeton outside to remind him that "There is Life Outside Your Apartment," and Princeton decides to take Lucy the Slut home with him. Kate is jealous, and Christmas Eve explains that Kate is angry because she actually loves Princeton a lot ("The More You Ruv Someone", which pays homage to "I Have a Love" from West Side Story). Kate stops by to give Princeton an invitation to meet her at the top of the Empire State Building. He is in the shower, so she leaves the letter with Lucy, who promptly destroys it. Nicky has stayed with neighbors since he was kicked out, but they are all fed up with his sloppiness and throw him out on the street. Nicky begs Gary Coleman to let him sleep on his floor, but Gary refuses. He explains to Nicky that in his miserable situation, Nicky, like Gary, can help others feel better about themselves ("Schadenfreude").

Princeton looks for Lucy, who has left without saying goodbye. Kate, standing on the viewing platform at the top of the Empire State Building, is angry that Princeton seems to have stood her up, and she throws the penny that he gave her off the platform. Far below, Lucy, passing by, is hit in the head by the penny and knocked into a coma. At the hospital, Kate and Princeton attempt to work out their problems, but Princeton is still not ready for commitment. Nicky attempts a reconciliation with Rod, who is too proud to accept his apology, despite clearly missing him. Depressed, Rod tearfully consults with Christmas Eve, who gently nudges him out of the closet. Everyone ponders what it would be like to return to happier times ("I Wish I Could Go Back to College").

Nicky, begging in the street, tells Princeton that he should be thinking about other people. Struck with inspiration, Princeton determines to raise the money to build Kate's monster school. Nicky likewise realizes that, to get back to his apartment, he needs to help Rod by finding him a boyfriend. The neighbors raise some money, but not much; they attempt to resolve this by breaking the fourth wall and asking the audience for money ("The Money Song"). Trekkie Monster, finding out what the appeal is for, remembers his hellish school days and donates $10 million – more than enough for what Kate needs to open her school – that he earned by investing in pornography ("School for Monsters/The Money Song (Reprise)").

Kate is delighted with the new school. Brian has a new consulting job and Christmas Eve a steady client (Rod), so they are leaving Avenue Q for "a better place" on the Lower East Side (in some performances, they move to Hell's Kitchen). Rod reveals, to no one's surprise, that he is gay, and invites Nicky to move back in. Nicky has found a boyfriend for Rod: a muscle-bound hunk named Ricky, who looks and sounds exactly like Nicky. Rod is sent into a state of shock when presented with the two of them. He falls instantly in love with Ricky and leads him happily into the apartment. Meanwhile, the Bad Idea Bears have found Scientology, and Lucy has recovered to become a born-again Christian. Kate is impressed that Princeton has made her monster school a reality. Princeton asks her for a second chance, and Kate says they'll take it one day at a time ("There's a Fine, Fine Line (Reprise)").

A new kid, just out of college with a BA in English, comes to look at Brian and Christmas Eve's newly vacant apartment ("What Do You Do With A BA in English (Reprise)"), and Princeton has a revelation: his purpose may be to pass on everything he's learned about real life by putting it all into a show. Everyone shoots the idea down, and the kid gives Princeton the finger. Princeton worries that he may never find his purpose, but the others encourage him to cheer up. Life may be bad at the moment, but everything in life is only "For Now."

[edit] Characters

A naïve college graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in English, looking for his purpose in life. In an on/off relationship with Kate.
Kate Monster
An ambitious, romantic kindergarten assistant. She falls in love with Princeton and her dream in life is to open a special school for monsters due to having been prejudiced for being one throughout her life.
A closeted Republican investment banker. He is secretly in love with Nicky. A parody of Bert from Sesame Street.
Rod's sweet-hearted, yet messy and jobless roommate. A parody of Ernie from Sesame Street.
An out-of-work Jewish comedian, engaged to Christmas Eve. Becomes a consultant by the end of the show, although it isn't revealed what kind of consultant he is.
Christmas Eve
A straight-talking Japanese therapist who speaks engrish, engaged to Brian. Has no clients because it is implied she gives bad advice, however, she serendipitously manages to help several characters throughout the show.
Gary Coleman
Television's Gary Coleman, now a washed up former child star. The building superintendent.
The Bad Idea Bears
Two Care Bear-like characters, who use their charm to manipulate people into giving in to their desires. They later end up converting to Scientology
Trekkie Monster
A Cookie Monster-parody, addicted to Internet porn instead of cookies. He is not related to Kate Monster. It is later revealed that he has accrued large sums of money from investing in pornography.
Lucy The Slut
A vixenish slutty night club singer. She seduces Princeton, and later gets sent to the hospital after Kate unintentionally drops a penny on her head from the top of the Empire State Building. She later becomes a born-again Christian and reaffirms her chastity.
Mrs. Thistletwat
Kate's elderly, straight-laced boss and kindergarten teacher.
A fresh-faced college graduate.
A gay muscle-bound hunk who looks exactly like Nicky. He is the person Nicky sets Rod up on for a blind date.

[edit] List of songs

Act I
  • "The Avenue Q Theme" - Company
  • "What Do You Do with a B.A. in English?" - Princeton
  • "It Sucks to Be Me" - Brian, Kate Monster, Rod, Nicky, Christmas Eve, Gary Coleman, and Princeton
  • "If You Were Gay" - Nicky and Rod
  • "Purpose" - Princeton and Company
  • "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist" - Princeton, Kate, Gary, Brian, and Christmas Eve
  • "The Internet Is for Porn" - Kate, Trekkie Monster, Brian, Gary Coleman, Rod, and Princeton
  • "Mix Tape" - Kate and Princeton
  • "I'm Not Wearing Underwear Today" - Brian
  • "Special" - Lucy the Slut
  • "You Can Be as Loud as the Hell You Want (When You're Makin' Love)" - Gary, The Bad Idea Bears, Princeton, Kate, and Company
  • "Fantasies Come True" - Rod, Kate, Nicky and Princeton
  • "My Girlfriend, Who Lives in Canada" - Rod
  • "There's a Fine, Fine Line" - Kate
Act II
  • "It Sucks to Be Me (Reprise)"‡ - Princeton (note: this was added in the Las Vegas version of the show and subsequently added into the Broadway show)
  • "There Is Life Outside Your Apartment" - Brian, Princeton, Christmas Eve, Gary, Nicky, Trekkie Monster, Lucy, and Company
  • "The More You Ruv Someone" - Christmas Eve and Kate
  • "Schadenfreude" - Gary and Nicky
  • "I Wish I Could Go Back to College" - Kate, Nicky and Princeton
  • "The Money Song" - Nicky, Princeton, Gary, Brian and Christmas Eve
  • "School for Monsters" - Trekkie Monster and Company
  • "The Money Song (Reprise)" - Nicky, Princeton, Gary, Brian and Christmas Eve
  • "There's a Fine, Fine Line (Reprise)" - Princeton and Kate
  • "What Do You Do With a B.A. in English? (Reprise)" - Newcomer
  • "For Now" - Kate, Brian, Gary, Nicky, Rod, Christmas Eve, Trekkie Monster, Lucy, The Bad Idea Bears, Princeton and Company

‡ = Not on original cast recording.

[edit] Other Avenue Q songs

So far, there are seven known Avenue Q songs that are not in the show itself.

  • "Tear It Up and Throw It Away": before being cut, it came between the opening number and "If You Were Gay." Kate Monster is called for jury duty and won't be able to go to the aquarium with Nicky. Nicky tells her to pretend she didn't get the summons and that nobody will notice if she just doesn't go ("just like the airlines, they overbook!"). As the number has no relevance to the plot as it is today, it was cut in rehearsals off-Broadway. (The cut came so late that the earliest promotional materials for the show refer to the song.) Rick Lyon and Stephanie D'Abruzzo recorded the song, and while it is not on the cast recording, the song was on a CD that was included with the original souvenir program.
  • "How Much Do the People in Your Neighborhood Make?": a song written very early in the show's history and abandoned when it was decided to pursue a stage production rather than a television series.[citation needed]
  • "Rod's Dilemma": written for Tony voters, this song spoofs the Tony voting as a vote for Rod's Rotary Club's president. Rod can't decide whether to vote for the guy he has a crush on, a wealthy guy, or an old friend. The residents of Avenue Q tell him not to "vote for your friends, 'cause they say you should-vote for the candidate you think is good". Princeton notes that "it's a secret ballot, so nobody has to know who you voted for!" The song can be heard on the official site.
  • "Only in Vegas": This song was written to promote the Las Vegas production. It features Rick Lyon as Steve Wynn telling the cast of Avenue Q how happy they will be in Vegas. The song was performed on Regis and Kelly and in some press and media events. The song was the first that did not parody Sesame Street songs, instead sending up Las Vegas-style songs. It was also the first Avenue Q recording that did not feature the original Broadway cast.
  • "Rod's Christmas": Found on the CD Broadway's Greatest Gifts: Carols for a Cure, Vol. 5. Rod headlines at the "Don't Tell Daddy's Cabaret and Night Club." (The name is a parody of the famous New York piano bar Don't Tell Mama, which is named for a song from Cabaret.) Christmas is the time of year where he can combine his two great loves: "Christmas carols and showtunes". He sings a Christmas medley but gets no applause. Subsequent Carols for a Cure recordings features Avenue Q cast members out of character.
  • "Time": Shown in London previews on the video screens at the intermission, it was a video of Nicky sitting on the toilet, singing that he is taking his time before the next act begins, with people waiting for the stall yelling at him to get out. It was cut during early previews, although a CD that includes it is included with the souvenir brochure. The video is also available on YouTube. It features a short appearance by Matt Lucas. It can be seen here: Time - Avenue Q
  • "Christmas": "Purpose" with new, festive lyrics. Written by the company of Avenue Q London for the charity, Theatrecares' "West End Christmas" event. It is on a special CD, but can also be heard here : [7]

[edit] Original production

Avenue Q at the John Golden Theatre on Broadway

The musical opened off-Broadway at the Vineyard Theatre in March 2003 (where it won that season's Lucille Lortel Award for Best Musical). It then moved to Broadway at the John Golden Theatre on July 31, 2003 where it is still running. Avenue Q won three 2004 Tony Awards, including the Tony Award for Best Musical, despite strong competition from the very successful musical Wicked. The production was directed by Jason Moore and choreographed by Ken Roberson. The puppets were conceived and designed by original cast member Rick Lyon. The musical supervision, orchestration and arrangements for Avenue Q and its cast album are by Stephen Oremus. The original cast included:

The current cast includes:

  • Princeton/Rod: Howie Michael Smith
  • Kate Monster/Lucy the Slut: Carey Anderson[2]
  • Trekkie Monster, Nicky, Bear, Etc.: Christian Anderson
  • Gary Coleman: Carla Renata
  • Brian: Nicholas Kohn
  • Christmas Eve: Ann Sanders
  • Mrs. Thistletwat, Bear, etc.: Jennifer Barnhart
  • Ensemble: Minglie Chen, Carmen Ruby Floyd, Jonathan Root, Matt Schreiber, Sharon Wheatley

[edit] Subsequent productions

[edit] Las Vegas production

On September 8, 2005, a second production of Avenue Q opened up at the Wynn Las Vegas hotel and casino in Las Vegas. This production had an "exclusive" contract that precluded Avenue Q tours in North America. A new 1,200 seat theater was built specially for the show. There were some differences from the Broadway production, including a new reprise of "It Sucks To Be Me" for Princeton at the top of Act Two, some new orchestrations, a trimmed "The Money Song," and a new rock arrangement of "There Is Life Outside Your Apartment," as well as a few jokes aimed at Las Vegas audiences. Most of these changes have since been incorporated into the Broadway version.[citation needed]

In mid-January 2006, the show was cut to 90 minutes, removing the intermission and trimming 10-15 minutes of material. Steve Wynn promoted the show heavily, including dressing 20 cabs in orange fuzz to promote the show. They had "Q" in white letters etched in front. Though the show was reported to have been profitable,[citation needed] it closed on May 28, 2006, after only a nine-month run. It was replaced by Spamalot and the theater was renamed the Grail Theatre.[3] The closing of the show in Las Vegas released the Avenue Q producers from their exclusivity agreement, opening the way for a U.S. national tour or other U.S. productions.

[edit] London production

A production premiered in June 2006 in London's West End at the Noël Coward Theatre (Avenue Q is its first production since it changed its name from the Albery Theatre), produced by Cameron Mackintosh. The show previewed on 1 June 2006 and opened on 28 June 2006. Avenue Q was booking in London until 25 April 2009 but posted early closing notices on 17 October 2008 to schedule its closure on 28 March 2009. However, there was a surge in ticket sales and the show is now scheduled to re-open on 1 June 2009 at the Gielgud Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue, two months after the show leaves the Noël Coward Theatre to make way for producer Cameron Mackintosh's production of Calendar Girls. The production uses a different logo for the show as well as the original logo.[4] The original logo is styled after the New York City Subway system graphics, and so it would have little resonance with a London audience.

The most noticeable initial change was that Gary Coleman was assumed not to be well known enough for a UK audience, and the character was changed to "Gary — that famous kid from TV" and cast as a male actor instead of a female. This also caused a rewrite of the orchestration's nod to Diff'rent Strokes in "It Sucks To Be Me" and a slightly revised lyric for Gary in the song. After audience polling, the character's name was changed back to Gary Coleman, the Diff'rent Strokes theme quote was re-included in the score, and the original dialogue of his catchphrase: "Whatchoo talkin' about Willis?" was reinstated. The lyrics remained in their altered version, and Gary is still cast with a male actor. (Although understudies for the role were both male and female.)

The full list of changes between Broadway and London is as follows: Act One

  • There is a slight difference in the rhythm of the line "And you live on Avenue Q" during "The Avenue Q Theme", the show's opening number.
  • A revision of Gary's lyrics in "It Sucks To Be Me" (see above)
  • Christmas Eve's lyrics in "It Sucks To Be Me" change from "Tried to work in Korean deli, But I am Japanese." to "Tried to work in Chinese restaurant"
  • The title of Rod's book at the start of Scene 2 is changed from "Broadway Musicals of the 1940s" to "The Greatest Broadway Musicals Of All Time". During the song which follows ("If You Were Gay"), Rod also quotes titles "My Fair Lady" and "The Sound of Music" instead of the original "High Buttoned Shoes" and "Pal Joey".
  • Princeton loses his job over the phone in Scene 3 because the company is "downsizing", not because the company is "folding".
  • Four bars are removed from the orchestration of "Purpose" in Scene 3, Princeton's lyric "Ba Ba Ba Ba, Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo!" is removed, and the rhythm of the song does not pick up until the line "Gotta find my purpose, before it's too late!"
  • Towards the end of "Purpose", the moving boxes sing minorly amended lyrics.
  • There is a very minor change to the closing orchestration of "Purpose"; the song finishes on a sequence of four notes, rather than just one.
  • Kate Monster's speech about her purpose in life in Scene 4 is different. Where on Broadway she spoke about how the curriculum did not include "Monster Arts and History", in London she complains about how "the media only talks about the bad things that Monsters do", and insists that "Some of the most productive members of our society are people of fur". (Incorporated into Broadway version).
  • In "Everyone's A Little Bit Racist" (Scene 4), Princeton asks Gary if he makes jokes about French people, instead of if he makes jokes about "Polacks". Gary responds "Well, sure I do, those french people are such assholes!" instead of "Well, sure I do! Those stupid Polacks!"
  • In London, the part of Mrs Thistletwat is played with a New York accent, as opposed to a British Home Counties accent.
  • Brian is given a drum roll throughout his short section of dialogue prior to "I'm Not Wearing Underwear Today"
  • When Brian introduces Lucy The Slut before she sings "Special" in the bar scene (Scene 8), he talks of her world tour headlining in Amsterdam, Bangkok and the Vatican City (the Vatican City replaced a reference to Euro Disney cut in early previews), intead of Amsterdam, Bangkok and Celebration Florida.
  • When the Bad Idea Bears enter in the same scene, they bring Kate and Princeton Absinthe Daiquris, not Long Island Iced Teas.
  • Shortly in to Scene 9, during "You Can Be As Loud As The Hell You Want (When You're Makin' Love)", Gary does not receive a phone call complaining of the noise. Instead, a flowerpot is thrown from a window, and offstage a voice shouts "Shut the fuck up!". (Incorporated into Broadway version).
  • At the start of Scene 10, directly before "Fantasies Come True", Rod's line of dialogue, "Have you been shy all this time?" is removed.

Act Two

  • The opening of Act Two is amongst one of the larger changes to the production. The Entr'acte is a new orchestration (an instrumental version of "It Sucks To Be Me") reprise of "It Sucks To Be Me" is added where before Princeton simply gave dialogue.
  • Brian has a joke inserted into his dialogue prior to "There Is Life Outside Your Apartment"(Incorporated into Broadway version).
  • The song "There Is Life Outside Your Apartment" has an entirely new orchestration, and some dialogue has been removed.
  • The incidental piece of music which accompanies Kate Monster's letter to Princeton is an instrumental version of "Mix Tape", instead of "The More You Ruv Someone".
  • The animation between Kate's letter and Scene 3 is changed from "Five nightstands" to "Five Knights Stand".
  • A large section of "Schadenfreude" is removed.
  • The instrumental of the vocal part of "There's A Fine, Fine Line" which accompanies Kate's section of dialogue atop the Empire State Building is played on a flute, not a clarinet.
  • When Kate comes to see Princeton at the hospital, she says that she is working at Starbucks, not at Barnes and Noble.
  • Large sections of "The Money Song" are cut, and a verse is added, for which the lyrics are :

"When you help a monster child, Your endorphins will go wild! When you help others, you're really helping yourself. Give us your money!

  • A more recent change, during the closing number, "Only For Now", the lyric "George Bush, is only for now" is now sung as "George Bush was only for now". The Broadway production of Avenue Q ran a competition for fans to send in new ideas for this lyric, however tests proved Bush to be the best subject.[5]
  • The Curtain Call music is not performed live in London. Instead, a recorded track plays, and the band appears on stage at the end, miming instruments to the track. On Broadway, the band appear on the video screens briefly during curtain call.

General Changes

  • The orchestrations vary throughout due to there being different instruments in the band.
  • The video screens are flown in and out from above the stage in London, whereas on Broadway they are permanently mounted either side of the stage. There is also four video screens in London (there are an additional two towards the back of the Stalls due to visual restrictions).

The original London cast was:

  • Princeton/Rod: Jon Robyns
  • Kate Monster/Lucy the Slut: Julie Atherton
  • Trekkie Monster, Nicky, Bear, etc.: Simon Lipkin
  • Gary Coleman: Giles Terera
  • Brian: Sion Lloyd
  • Christmas Eve: Ann Harada
  • Mrs. Thistletwat, Bear, etc.: Clare Foster
  • Ensemble members: Gloria Onitiri, Jacqui Sanchez and Luke Evans
  • Swings: Yanle Zhong, Gabriel Vick and Matthew J Henry

The current cast includes:

  • Princeton/Rod: Dan Boys
  • Kate Monster/Lucy the Slut: Julie Atherton
  • Trekkie Monster, Nicky, Bear, etc.: Mark Goldthorp
  • Gary Coleman: Edward Baruwa
  • Brian: Christopher Fry
  • Christmas Eve: Joanna Ampil
  • Mrs. Thistletwat, Bear, etc.: Rachel Jerram
  • Ensemble and Swings: Simon Gorton, Taofique Folarin, Tom Parsons, Candy Ma, Maria Lawson and Maria Omakinwa.

[edit] U.S./Canada Tour

The 1st North American tour began at the Spreckels Theatre in San Diego, California on June 30, 2007.[6] The principal cast includes Robert McClure as Princeton/Rod; Kelli Sawyer as Kate Monster and Lucy the Slut.[7]

Per the Chicago Playbill the cast is as follows (The Chicago engagement ran until June 8, 2008):

  • Princeton, Rod — Robert McClure
  • Brian — Cole Porter
  • Kate Monster, Lucy & Others — Anika Larsen
  • Nicky, Trekkie Monster, Bear & Others — David Benoit
  • Christmas Eve — Sala Iwamatsu
  • Gary Coleman — Danielle K. Thomas
  • Mrs. T., Bear & Others — Maggie Lakis
  • Ensemble — Lexy Fridell, Zonya Love, Seth Rettberg
  • Swings – Rebecca Larkin, Benjamin Schrader, Robin S. Walker

For the Toronto part of the tour, Producer Dancap Productions and Advertising Agency Sans Blah launched a contest allowing fans of the show to win tickets by uploading photos of them self and adding the Avenue Q characters. The contest ended August 26, however the site still allows fans of the show to create photos.[8]

[edit] International productions


The first translated version of the musical opened on February 16, 2007 in Stockholm, Sweden, at Maxim teatern, starring Jakob Stadell as Princeton/Rod, and Cecilia Wrangel as Kate Monster/Lucy the Slut. Avenue Q played at the Savoy Theatre in Helsinki, Finland, from February 23, 2007 to May 19, 2007. A Filipino production ran in Manila in September and December 2007, and is scheduled to return in June 2008 at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, directed by Bobby Garcia and Chari Arespacochaga. The original Manila cast included Felix Rivera as Princeton and Rod;[9] and Rachel Alejandro as Kate Monster and Lucy The Slut.[10] Other cast members in the Philippine production included former child-star Aiza Seguerra as Gary Coleman, Joel Trinidad as Trekkie Monster and Frenchie Dy as Christmas Eve. An Israeli production opened on October 23, 2007 at the Beth Lessin Theatre, directed by Moshe Kepten and translated into Hebrew by Eli Bijaoui.[11] Quite heavily rewritten in order to make the show more accessible to the local public and language with the major change being the entire replacement of the Gary Coleman character by Michal Yannai, Former "Queen of Children". The Israeli cast includes Roy Bar-Natan as Princeton and Rod, Idan Alterman as Nicky and Bear and Tali Oren as Kate Monster and Lucy the Slut. Michal Yannai appears as "herself".


An Israeli tour played in Jerusalem and Haifa in January and February, 2008, but returned to Tel Aviv in March, 2008. A Mexican version performed from April, 29 to October, 26 at Centro Cultural Telmex in Mexico City and is expected to tour Guadalajara and Monterrey in 2008.[12]. This production underwent, several changes including a completely redesigned set, puppeteers wearing bold colors instead of the customary black/grey combination, a bus company advertisements on set, and the substitution of Gary Coleman for a character that references a local actor without explicitly mentioning his name (who reportedly complained about this reference remaining which he strictly forbade when approached earlier by the company)[13][14]The cast includes teen-band star Christian Chávez and other actors of telenovela and reality show background. This production's puppets, were built by Rick Lyon's company.

After its successful Manila run, the Philippine production played in Singapore[8] from October 30, 2008 to November 16, 2008 at the Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay. [9]. A Russian version of the musical is planned for Moscow in late 2008. A French version of the musical is planned for Paris in late 2008. A Swedish tour will start in October, 2008, with dates booked for Umeå, Linköping, Gävle, Örebro, Halmstad, Lund, Kungsbacka, and Skövde.[15] This production will return to Stockholm in April, 2009. [10]


As of March 2009, a Hungarian version of the musical is being shown in the Centrál Színház in Budapest.[16]

An Australian production has been announced for 2009.[17][18] Avenue Q will premiere at the Comedy Theatre, Melbourne in June 2009.

In Istanbul, Turkey, the premier will be on the 26th of March 2009. [19]

[edit] Royal Tunbridge Wells production

In late 2007, special permission was given by the Authors and Producers of Avenue Q London for Kent-based student run theatre company "Very Clever Theatre" to produce an amateur version of Avenue Q at the Trinity Theatre in Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England in 2008. This is only particularly notable because this is the first time official permission has ever been given for an amateur performance of the show to be produced outside of an officially licensed production. The Royal Tunbridge Wells production of Avenue Q gave its single performance on Saturday, August 2 2008, and raised close to £3,000 for the BBC Children in Need charity. It has also been nominated for ten AAE awards, including Best Musical and Best Successful Arts Project. Five of the show's seven cast members also received nominations as a result, as well as the Musical Director (Oliver Etherington, for Best Direction of Accompaniment), and the Producer and the Director (Oliver Southgate, for Outstanding Achievements By A Young Person and Best Leading Actor).

[edit] Avenue Q promotional events

Avenue Q cast performing at Broadway on Broadway

On September 30, 2004, the day of the first Bush-Kerry presidential debate, on a stage set up in Times Square, the cast of Avenue Q presented their version of the debate, called Avenue Q&A, with portrait puppets of Bush and Kerry created by Rick Lyon. Eighteen television networks covered the event. Lyon operated the Bush puppet, while Jennifer Barnhart operated the Kerry puppet. Each puppet sang responses to questions from Avenue Q's concerned residents, and then the whole cast sang to the rain-drenched crowds to "Vote your heart!"

Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa puppets created by Lyon hosted the first few minutes of an episode of Live! with Regis and Kelly.[citation needed] In addition, Rod and John Tartaglia did "man-on-the-street"-style interviews on the 2005 CBS broadcast of the Macy's Day Parade. Rod and John also appeared alongside other Broadway stars in a World AIDS Day benefit concert of Pippin held at the Manhattan Center on November 29, 2004. Rod played "The Head."

In another World AIDS Day benefit, the original cast of Avenue Q and the cast of the recent Broadway revival of Fiddler On The Roof presented a 10-minute performance that was essentially a spoof of "Fiddler" and Avenue Q called "Avenue Jew,"[11] in which Trekkie Monster played the Fiddler Theme and, at its conclusion, ate the fiddle. In a sort of epilogue to Tevye's story, Tevye, his wife Golde, and his two remaining unwed daughters arrive on Avenue Jew, an area inhabited by Jewish puppets (the Q cast played Jewish versions of their usual characters). Avenue Jew is also home to some human Jews such as Brian and Hannukah Eve. The human Jews are fed up with the puppet Jews upstaging them constantly. Jewish-American Princeton arrives asking "What do you do with a B.A. in Yiddish?" One of Tevye's daughter's, Shprintze, falls in love with Princeton, but Tevye forbids their union. The Matchmaker (who is played by Mrs. Thistletwat) sets Rod up with Lazar Wolf ("I'm a lonely man, Tevye."). After a brief interior monologue, Tevye finally consents to Princeton and Shprintze's marriage. Rod and Lazar Wolf also wish to be wed, so they decide to ask permission from the Tsar, who happens to be a puppet Bush, who forbids gay marriage. Ben Brantley interrupts, asking who the real Jewish people in the cast are, and the company finish with a rousing finale, telling us that "everyone's a little bit Jewish" and "in theatre you can be whatever you want to be."

In November 2005 , the Avenue Q website held a "One Night Stand" contest, calling for people to register their puppets and see whose was most worthy to be put next to Rick Lyon's. Eventually, the contest narrowed to 10 entrants, and later to three, at which point the worthiest puppet and puppeteer were voted on. Andrew MacDonald Smith and his puppet Maurice Tipo won. On March 10, 2006, Smith and his puppet appeared onstage during a show performance, appearing in the café scene, singing the opening song and curtain call.

In July 2006, several members of Avenue Q appeared for the opening ceremonies of the Gay Games in Chicago. In October 2006, Jonathan Root and Princeton presented the award for Best Young Adult Novel at the Quill Awards. In November 2006, the London cast appeared on the BBC Children in Need show and performed "It Sucks To Be Me." [20] In December 2006, the London cast performed on the Royal Variety Performance and performed "It Sucks To Be Me," "For Now," and "Special," in which 'Lucy the Slut' suggested through lyrics and dialogue she was making a pass at Charles, Prince of Wales.

The cast of Avenue Q and puppets appeared briefly in the 2007 "This Is New York" ad for tourists.

[edit] Puppets

Although the puppets are substantially similar, there are three main types of puppets used in Avenue Q.

[edit] Single-rod puppets

Princeton, Kate Monster
In a single-rod puppet, if the puppeteer is right-handed, the right hand goes inside the puppet and controls the mouth. If he/she is left-handed, it is vice versa. The puppeteer's left hand holds the rod attached to the puppet's left hand, and the puppet's right hand is pinned to its side. Should the puppet need to manipulate a prop, the puppeteer holds the puppet's hand and the prop, creating the illusion that the puppet is holding the object. One variation of this puppet features velcro to allow the fingers to perform a more intricate maneuver, e.g., "flipping the bird".[21]

[edit] Double-rod puppets

Rod, Lucy, the Bad Idea Bears, the Newcomer
Double-rod puppets are similar to single-rod puppets but feature two rods instead of one. Instead of the puppet's right hand being stitched to its side, both hands are able to be moved. The puppeteer holds both rods in his left hand, while the right hand manipulates the mouth. Occasionally, the puppeteer will use only one of the puppet's hand in a motion and will need to drop the other rod but will pick up the rod after the action.[21]

[edit] Live-hands puppets

Nicky, Trekkie Monster, Mrs. T., Ricky
Live-hands puppets are more intricately maneuvered, requiring two puppeteers. The puppeteers' hands and arms fit into long sleeves and gloves and become the arms and hands of the puppet. The speaking actor controls the puppet's left hand and mouth while the second controls the puppet's right hand. On occasion, either puppeteer will leave to command another puppet, and the remaining puppeteer will control the whole puppet. In a variation on this puppet, one or both of the puppet's hands can be stitched to its body.[21]

[edit] Original Broadway cast recording

The original cast recording was made on August 10, 2003, at Right Track Studio A in New York City, produced by Grammy Award winner Jay David Saks for RCA Victor. The album contains almost all of the music from the show, with the original Broadway cast and orchestra. Released on October 6, 2003, it has been in the top ten of the Billboard Top Cast Album Chart since the chart's launch on January 12, 2006.[22] It was nominated for the Musical Show Album category in the 2004 Grammy Awards.[23]

The cast album presents the music in the order in which it appears in the show, omitting short and primarily instrumental sections. Though not included on the cast album, the cut song “Tear It Up And Throw It Away” was recorded by Stephanie D’Abruzzo and Rick Lyon and issued for a time inside copies of the souvenir program book. Other recorded songs by members of the Broadway cast include three which are not part of the show: "Rod's Dilemma" (which can be heard on avenueq.com), "Only In Vegas", and two Christmas songs: "Rod's Christmas" (on Carols For A Cure, Vol. 5) and "Holi-Daze" (on Carols For A Cure, Vol. 8). See "Other Avenue Q Songs," above, for more information.

[edit] Awards and nominations

Broadway production
  • Drama Desk Award for Outstanding New Musical (nominee)
  • Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Book of a Musical (nominee)
  • Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical (nominee)
  • Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Lyrics (nominee)
  • Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Music (nominee)

The soundtrack received a Grammy Award nomination

1st National Tour (US/Canada)
  • Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Non-Resident Production (Washington DC)
  • GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Theatre Production (Los Angeles)
  • Drama Critics Circle Award for Puppet Design by Rick Lyon (Los Angeles)
London production
Israel production [24]
  • Israeli Theatre Award for the Best Entertainment Show
  • Israeli Theatre Award for the Best Translator (nominee)
  • Israeli Theatre Award for the Best Choreographer (nominee)

[edit] References

  1. ^ Johns, Ian (2006-05-29). "These toys are really us-Arts & Entertainment-TimesOnline". Entertainment news and arts news from The Times and Sunday Times -TimesOnline. Times Newspapers Ltd. 1. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,585-2199121,00.html. Retrieved on 2007-04-15. "During early previews in the States we invited Jim Henson’s widow and children and they could see that what we were doing was an homage and love letter to Sesame Street." Johns, Ian (2006-05-29). "These toys are really us". The Times (Times Newspapers Ltd). http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/article727305.ece. Retrieved on 2007-04-15. 
  2. ^ Gans, Andrew"Carey Anderson to Temporarily Join National Tour of Avenue Q",playbill.com, September 26, 2008
  3. ^ Richard Abowitz, Avenue Q Gets Spam-ed by Steve Wynn, LATimes.com, February 15, 2006, Accessed January 6, 2008.
  4. ^ London logo at the UK website
  5. ^ Gans, Andrew"Avenue Q Creators Decide to Keep Bush Reference in For Now Finale",playbill.com, March 4, 2009
  6. ^ "Old Globe Productions," retrieved 11 July 2007
  7. ^ Playbill.com news article of May 7, 2007
  8. ^ You On Avenue Q
  9. ^ "Felix Rivera Finds His Purpose" Accessed: 1 June 2007.
  10. ^ "Rachel Joins Avenue Q" Accessed: 1 June 2007.
  11. ^ Information about the Israeli production
  12. ^ Mexican production
  13. ^ http://www.eluniversal.com.mx/espectaculos/82895.html Commentary on Avenue Q México(Spanish)
  14. ^ http://www.esmas.com/laoreja/noticias/736830.html Carlos Espejel upset against show (Spanish)
  15. ^ [1]
  16. ^ [2]
  17. ^ [3]
  18. ^ [4]
  19. ^ http://www.avenueqistanbul.com/
  20. ^ [5]
  21. ^ a b c Glossary - The Art of Puppetry
  22. ^ Information from Billboard, November 2006
  23. ^ Information from Variety, December 7, 2004
  24. ^ [6]

[edit] External links

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