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Avenue Q

I've been interested in seeing Avenue Q since pittenweem gushed about the songs and "There's Life Outside Your Apartment" showed up as the soundtrack to an anime music vid at Anime North. Finally, thanks to momentum from lazyknight and M., we went last week.

When summaries call it a "grown-up version of Sesame Street", they aren't kidding. It's not an analogy: the show is self-consciously show. There are interjected vignettes the introduce new words in entertaining ways. There are catchy tunes with dance numbers. There are characters which are - at least in aspects of their lives - directly derived from Sesame Street. There is a complete intermixing of humans with puppets.

The musical is about how university doesn't teach Life Lessons. Knowledge isn't wisdom or common sense, and success rarely falls, ripe, into one's hand. It's about a few weeks amoung 20-and-30-somethings on Avenue Q in NYC, a motley collection of people renting from a child movie star who had the worst possible thing happen to him: he grew up. One character wrestles with the aftermath of graduation; another pines for a date; a third works on coming to grips with being gay; a fourth is overeducated, underemployed, and heavily-accented. The last, Christmas Eve, was my favorite character in the musical; the dialogue plays with her densely Japanese-accented English.

The puppets are beautifully done. Their puppeteers walk around with them, their legs and nuances in things the puppets can't do, like wink. They are fully there, yet the human characters don't interact with them: that's what the puppet characters are for. Among the puppets are humans and monsters: monsters are furry; they're a whole different type of people than the humans are, with all the misunderstandings and stereotyping that brings.

For all the Life Lessons it's about, the musical isn't as heavy-handed as it sounds because it has such broad and deep humor to leaven it. It was a whole lot of fun, with memorable songs, zingy dialogue, bubbles, dreamscapes, and career advice.

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Comments

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
4ll4n0
Aug. 27th, 2008 01:02 am (UTC)
I want to see Avenue Q, although I fear I may have waited to long. This is their last week in TO.

I remember that Music video at Anime North also...
theengineer
Aug. 27th, 2008 05:49 pm (UTC)
I wish I'd seen the show first and the AMV second.

For those not in the know, there's an anime music video that has the cast of "Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex" singing "Live Sucks"

Edited at 2008-08-27 05:50 pm (UTC)
4ll4n0
Aug. 28th, 2008 12:44 am (UTC)
I don't remember that one, just the "There is life outside your apartment one." Shana referred to.
a_d_medievalist
Aug. 27th, 2008 01:50 am (UTC)
And now you know what the internet is really for ...
owlfish
Aug. 28th, 2008 02:03 pm (UTC)
I had always wondered.
moochmooch
Aug. 27th, 2008 03:52 pm (UTC)
I would love to see Avenue Q on stage, I love the music. Maybe it's just a difference in casts, but I've always heard Christmas Eve's accent as more stereotypically Chinese. Interesting.
owlfish
Aug. 28th, 2008 02:04 pm (UTC)
There are two aspects to this: firstly, it really did sound like a heavy-handed Japanese-accented English to me. Secondly, she has a line in which she observed that she works at a Chinese restaurant, even though she's Japanese.
theengineer
Aug. 27th, 2008 05:48 pm (UTC)
I just saw it as well. "Schandefreude" was my favourite song.
stonecircle
Aug. 27th, 2008 06:39 pm (UTC)
Oooh I saw a snippet on a tv show and it looked cool. Not much chance of me seeing it live though.
owlfish
Aug. 28th, 2008 02:06 pm (UTC)
It's likely to be on in London for a long time to come.
lazyknight
Aug. 27th, 2008 07:58 pm (UTC)
'twas very cool.

Try doing a search on YouTubefor some of the song titles... There are a few using Sesame Street clips that, if not wonderfully well spliced, are intrinsically funny anyway...
noncalorsedumor
Aug. 28th, 2008 06:01 am (UTC)
The internet is for porn.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )