With Rick Lyon at the helm, it is no surprise that the production of the Tony Award winning Avenue Q at the Smithtown Performing Arts Center is a fantastic one. Mr. Lyon was part of the original Broadway cast and is the designer and creator of the famous puppets in all of the Avenue Q incarnations.
There hasn’t been a show like this where the stars are puppets with real world problems. The puppet cast consisted of Kate Monster, Princeton, Rod, Nicky, Trekkie, Lucy The Slut, and the Bad Idea Bears. Those who have seen the show prior to this found it very close, if not exactly, what they saw on Broadway or Off-Broadway. And for others who hadn't seen the show before, they discovered a new kind of theatre.
It was fascinating that the puppets were treated as actual people. Just Christmas Eve (portrayed by EJ Zimmerman), Brian (portrayed by Aaron Fried), and Gary Coleman (portrayed by Tatianna Mott) were the only “people” in the cast and interacted with the puppets as if human completely ignoring the puppeteers.
As they take the audience through the journey of their lives - just out of college in the big NYC- the poor kids realize that life isn't as easy as when they were younger. They lose jobs, relationships end, and opportunity is limited. Nicky ends up homeless and Princeton not only loses his job, but he and Kate Monster end their relationship. When they see the famous Gary Coleman as the superintendent of their run down building, they realize they are no more special than anyone else, contrary to what they were taught growing up.
Everyone sounded amazing together as well as, of course, individually. They each had their moment as the majority of the cast had multiple characters to play. This was an incredible feat as each of the puppets had distinct personalities and each member of the cast was on point. One of the highlights being a heart tugging rendition of “There's a Fine, Fine Line” by Lindsay Naas who portrayed Kate Monster/Lucy. Also, “It Sucks To Be Me” got a rousing round of laughter from the audience.
The set was also very well put together. Taking place on a NYC block, the stage was multi-level with its highest point almost to the rafters (this point was used for when Kate Monster goes to the top of the empire state building to meet Princeton). The left side of the stage was another front of an apartment building that Brian and fiance’ Christmas Eve lived in. Princeton lived in a run-down brownstone apartment building that they built to the right of Brian and Christmas Eve.
Now playing through June 24th, even though the show is currently running Off-Broadway, support local theatre and check out this show at the Smithtown Performing Arts Center. Great, fun music, and a humorous, honest view of life and its down falls make this groundbreaking show a must see.
Avenue Q is presented by the Smithtown Performing Arts Center in Smithtown, Long Island running through June 24th. Directed by Rick Lyon, Musical Direction by Cara Brown, choreography by Donna Drake, Lighting Design by Chris Creevy, Sound Design by Jessica Paz, Set Design by David Regan, Costume Design by Karl Ruckdeschel, Set Construction by Avancy, Inc., Stage Manager is Danny Gorman and Kelly Honig Mucciolo. For more information and to purchase tickets please call (631) 724-3700 or visit www.smithtownpac.org.