- (L to R ) Kate Monster (Emily Ristine) and Princeton (Ben Tebbe) go on their first date. Photo by Zach Rosing
Delightful in every aspect, Avenue Q is destined for a long residency at The Phoenix. The small-space allows for an intimate relationship between stage activity and audience. And despite compactness, production elements are every bit as classy as they are on big stages whether on Broadway or as a traveling company. The Phoenix team matches every expectation for stage setting, puppets and their symbiotic relationship with actors, music, costumes, lighting, animation, choreography -- it's all there with heart, soul, guts.
This is a show about seeking and finding personal purpose, companionship, economic security and dignity. It's an adult version of the fast-paced Sesame Street, so expect risque in very way and being skewered as an equal opportunity dig. Be prepared to be offended, but equally expect to be touched by lovely ballads revealing innermost longings. To the three dozen people directly involved -- thank you for 'making a village' in every good aspect of the concept.
Dan Tracy, Rachel Lambert and Patrick Weigand designed amazingly lifelike puppets. Emily Ristine (Kate Monster), Ben Tebbe (Princeton), Jason Gloye (Rod/Bad Idea Bear), Eric J. Olson (Nicky/Bad Idea Bear/Ricky) and Claire Wilcher (Trekkie Monster/Lucy the Slut) aided by Marcy Thornsberry, became the puppets. You have to witness the transformation yourself to be thrilled by the artistry. Diane Tsao Boehm (Christmas Eve), R. Brian Noffke (Brian) and DaKeisha Bryant (Gary Coleman) artfully are characters in their human form. The 5-piece band is on the money.
Bryan Fonseca manages to pull off the impossible - several years ago it was a fantastic production of Angels in America and now it's Avenue Q.