note: entire contents copyright 2016 by Richard Pacheco
“Avenue Q” at Ocean State Theatre is a real gem, loaded with sass, ribald energy and a terrific cast. Imagine Sesame Street on horny, raunchy steroids and you’ve got it. It is funny and irreverent as it tackles looking for your purpose in life. This is the musical that swiped the Tony from “Wicked” in 2003 and you can see why. It’s all done with puppets and a talented cast of adults in the obscure wilds of New York city.
It circles around Princeton a recent graduate with a BA in English who finds himself embroiled in too many bills, ending up jobless before he even starts work and his wannabe romance with Kate Monster a real sweetie who want to start a school for monsters. Of course Princeton is trying to escape the clutches of Lucy the Slut and the Bad Idea Bears always ready to lead them into temptation and beyond with no resistance whatsoever.
The songs are outrageous and fun and tackled a variety of issues with a smart and rambunctious attitude that is endearing in the midst of its bawdy verve and full of truth in the middle of it all.
Tommy Labonaris is a delight as Princeton the novice gradate with and English degree and also as Rod, a conservative Republican who finally realizes he is gay. He has a terrific voice and shines in his songs. With the company he is terrific in “What Do You Do with a BA in English.” The same with the insightful and funny “Purpose” His duet with Kate Monster “A Mix Tape” is pure fun as it delves into the mixed feelings of a budding romance. As Rod he is equally impressive with songs like “My Girlfriend, Who Lives in Canada”
Rochelle Weinrauch is on hand for both of his loves, the sweet, kind Kate Monster and the sultry tramp and vamp Lucy the Slut. She has a wonderful singing voice full of power and sensitivity. Her duet with Princeton is a enchanting, full of conflicting emotions and sincerity. As Lucy she is an equal delight, at once sultry, sexy and sluttish. She shows it all off to its best with “Special.”
Then there is the wonderful Lovely Hoffman as Gary Coleman, yes, that Gary Coleman who is the superintendent of the building. She is wining in her duet with Nicky, “Schadenfreunde.”
The rest of the cast is just as winning and fun, the amusing mix of outrageous and very human and down to earth in the mist of their trials and tribulations.
Jason Parrish directs it all with deft energy and ability.
Tyler Perry’s set is a successful mimicry of Sesame Street for adults. Justin P. Cowan’s musical direction is full of spunk and irreverence sparked by some fabulous voices.
Choreographer MK Lawson keeps it all spirited and full of fun.
You really don’t want to miss this one for a rollicking good time at once ribald and impertinent.