Tuesday, August 21 , 2018, 9:33 am | Fog/Mist 68º


Review: ‘Avenue Q’ Not the ‘Street’ You Grew Up On

This entertaining but naughty puppet show parody is for adult eyes and ears only

For those of us who grew up watching the offbeat-but-wholesome, values-teaching, puppet-meets-human world of Sesame Street on television, the stage musical Avenue Q last week at The Granada had the potential to come as quite a shock.

Depending on one’s views on the world, it also possibly inspired subversively delighted snickers with occasional guffaws of pure “Oh, no, you di’n’t!” I also hope those who missed the news that this is a very adult, extremely irreverent and often raunchy send-up of Sesame Street and brought the children because they saw puppets in the ads were turned back at the door pronto.

One of the writers and several original cast members of Avenue Q had worked on Sesame Street, so at least the satire comes from familiarity with the original source.

Songs such as “It Sucks to Be Me,” “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist,” “If You Were Gay” and “The Internet Is for Porn” utilize bouncy melodies in the vein of the popular children’s program but with decidedly grown-up lyrics. Even Oscar the Grouch never talked like this.

The sweet-talking, pastel Bad Idea Bears resembled cuddly 1980s-era Care Bears, but encouraged the main characters to buy beer with the rent money and to order too many Long Island iced teas and have drunken sex — which the puppets did. Onstage. Graphically. Oh, Grover, don’t look!

Long-running on Broadway, the show is now touring the United States with the Missouri-based Theater League.

The cast of a dozen young men and women pulled off the impressive feat of singing, dancing and integrating puppets such that this reviewer often forgot there was a human attached and focused on the puppets as true characters. The choreography was tight and flawless, and the cast had voices on them that would not quit — particularly Jacqueline Grabois, who voiced the female lead puppet, Kate Monster, and her rival, Lucy the Slut.

If occasionally the jokes seemed a bit forced, the writing was clever overall, the songs catchy, and the performers energetic and professional.

It was an entertaining and enjoyable evening. Even if Big Bird wouldn’t approve.

— Justine Sutton of Santa Barbara is a freelance writer and frequent Noozhawk reviewer.

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