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PostHeaderIcon Avenue Q: A Smash Hit

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On the billboard at the Bankhead Theater in Livermore, the Tri-Valley Repertory Theatre Group presents the uproarious, adult, comical, live production of Avenue Q through Nov. 2.  Indeed, reminiscent of the characters of Sesame Street, comic relief is accomplished as the cast utilizes puppets in portraying scenes dealing with diverse and controversial social issues for the 20-something age group.

Recommended for mature audiences, rated R by cabaret standards, ribald language in some scenes, although raw, is nothing most anyone, not living under a rock, hasn’t heard.  Even graphic scenes with sexual content have a comical spin which drives the audience from reserved chuckles to gales of laughter and thunderous applause.

Innovative techniques of the actors’ voice distortion and high-range singing pitch give the puppets an illusion of uttering the words themselves. Naughty, and fascinating to watch, they take the audience on a moving and humorous journey into personal growth and self-esteem.

Certainly not new to the stage circuit, the theme of this satire of entering adulthood with insecurities and uncertainties, in a search for purpose in the real world, is derived from the book of the same name written by Jeff Whitty.  Debuting on Broadway in New York in 2003, travel to venues from Stockholm to Paris to Israel and every corner of the world, the production has been lavished with myriad awards and recognition.

The musical numbers of this colorful, fast-paced and dynamic score, segue smoothly in the 2 act play, with a basic 1 set backdrop which offers continuity to the performance without set change interference. The unseen orchestral accompaniment was flawless, with strategic speaker placement, tempered to surround the audience.  High notes won my vote from characters “Christmas Eve” and puppeteer for “Lucy the Slut”.  Their voices, rich with clarity and range, convey professional quality and genuine talent.

Via Avenue Q, a fictional street in an outer borough of NYC, life, as portrayed by puppets, opens adult issues of racism, pornography, homosexuality and  Schadenfreude—(I’ll give you a clue:  experiencing pleasure in the misfortune of others)

Raunchy as it may be in part, the prevailing sentiment teaches the lesson of a misconception, and life isn’t as easy as we’ve been led to believe and we are not apt to be as special as we have been convinced to be as a child.  Coming away with the precept that life is a learning lesson, values, rewards and commitment are learned when we put an end to bias and  negative judgment, replacing the message with positive feelings that “When you help others, you can’t help helping yourself.”

Be alert when the cast overflows into the auditorium with the musical score of the Money Song, promoting funds for the imaginary Monstersori School concept devised by lead puppet Kate Monster.

Clearly, the value of laughter, the thought-provoking stimulus concerning complex social issues supports the grand finale ideal, “Life goes on—everything—both good and bad—is only for now”.

Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8:00 pm and Sunday at 2:00 pm through November 2, 2014.The Bankhead Theater is located at 2400 First St. Livermore.  925.373.6800

Karen Balch is a retired nurse, freelance writer and life-long theater lover. She writes regularly for allnewsnoblues.com.

Last Updated (Monday, 20 October 2014 21:48)


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