That is the premise for the coming-of-age play,”Avenue Q,” which recently kicked off a nationwide tour here.
The Tony Award-winning musical follows a young man named Princeton,a fresh-faced,twenty-something college grad who comes to Manhattan with great expectations,but no way to support himself.
Here's the catch: out of the cast of unconventional characters,half are human,half are made of fabric. It's a musical puppet show for adults. (No,it's not porn – although the play does include the catchy sing-along,”The Internet Is for Porn.”) These fuzzy creatures are looking for love,a purpose in life and a cheap apartment.
Princeton and other characters are puppets. The puppeteers are on stage in full view,their expressions mimicking those of their characters. These cheerful,happy puppets tackle grown-up problems in a Sesame Street-style setting.
The play opens full throttle with the song,”It Sucks to be Me,” during which the cast is introduced as they compare how their lives,well,suck.
After looking for a place to live starting on Avenue A,Princeton soon realizes that a fictional Avenue Q is the only thing in his price range. Little by little,he becomes disgruntled trying to make it alone in the city.
The show was created by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx in 1998 following their graduation,when they found themselves poorly paid,underappreciated and living in sketchy apartments. The duo teamed up to write a musical comedy that described their dilemmas.
Within months of opening,the show was a hit and landed on Broadway.
Princeton begins his adventures after befriending his neighbors,consequently complicating his life.
Among the childlike puppet neighbors are Kate Monster,a sweet assistant kindergarten teacher looking for love,and Princeton's on-again,off-again lady friend. The constantly quarreling roommates: Rod,a secretive Republican,and his well-meaning,but socially hopeless roommate,Nicky. The Bad Idea Bears incessantly confuse the group with their schemes.
The unlikely occurs when the kid-friendly puppets are placed in very adult situations,such as graphic puppet sex scenes.
“Who knew it could happen?” said David Benoit,the voice of Nicky and several other characers. “They have nothing below the waist.”
Later,Kate Monster threatens her nemesis,the sexy lounge singer Lucy the Slut,and the conservative Rod struggles to come to terms with his sexuality.
Theater-goers packed the National Theatre during its two-week run in Washington. Rebecca Lloyd,31,a defense contractor from Ashburn,Va.,heard “The Internet is for Porn” online and fell in love with it. When she learned the show was in D.C. she rushed to the theater.
“I've had the soundtrack forever,” she said. “It's pathetic. I got hooked on it and bought it immediately. I sing it all the time,even in the shower.”
The Bad Idea Bears were a favorite among others in the audience.
“It is perfect humor for my age,for 4 a.m.,for young professionals,” said Mason Phelps,23,of Washington,who works in business development. “I grew up on the Muppets,and I thought it was fantastic.”
After one performance,several cast members took Metro back to their hotels.
“It was so awesome! So much fun!” said Robert McClure during the subway ride. He is the voice of Princeton and Rod. “Isn't it amazing what we do for a living?”
The show's tour continues through August.
Baltimore: through Dec. 23
Minneapolis: Jan. 1 – Jan. 13
Cleveland: Jan. 15 – Jan. 27
Philadelphia: Jan. 29 – Feb. 10
St. Louis: Feb. 12 – Feb. 24
Milwaukee: Feb. 26 – March 2
Rochester,NY.: March 4 – March 9
Boston: March 11 – March 23
Atlanta: March 25 – March 30
Tampa,Fla.: April 1 – April 6
Columbus,Ohio: April 8 – April 13
East Lansing,Mich.: April 15 – April 20
Louisville,Ky.: April 22 – April 27
Buffalo,N.Y.: April 29 – May 4
Raleigh,N.C.: May 6 – May 11
Miami: May 13 – May 18
Chicago: May 21 – June 7
Seattle: June 10 – June 22
Portland,Ore.- June 24 – June 29
Fort Worth,Texas: July 8 – July 13
Greenville,S.C.: July 15 – July 20
Charlotte,N.C.: July 22 – July 27
Toronto: July 29 – Aug. 31