Just returning from your summer vacation and missed 3D Theatricals’ production of Avenue Q at Plummer Auditorium? Don’t fret; you can head up to Redondo Beach and catch the show.
Avenue Q scored three Tony Awards in 2004, beating out Wicked for Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book for a Musical. It is touted as “The Sesame Street For Adults” and features a talented cast of nine actors: Louis Pardo, (Princeton/Rod), C.J. Porter (Brian), Caitlin Humphreys (Kate/Lucy), Nathan Danforth (Nicky/Trekkie Monster/Bad Idea Bear), Camille Chen (Christmas Eve), Angela Wildflower Polk (Gary Coleman), Teya Patt (Mrs. T/Bad Idea Bear), Matthew Benedict (Ensemble), and Adrianna Lyons (Ensemble).
If you haven’t had an opportunity to see this show in Las Vegas or during its last national tour, don’t miss out. It is filled with catchy tunes, skilled puppetry and hilarious adult-themed dialog. The story takes Princeton, a recent college graduate, to Avenue Q, searching for an apartment and a purpose. He meets a rundown building full of neighbors, and once he meets the super - the former child star Gary Coleman - he quickly realizes that this may not be Melrose Place, but not a bad place to land while he searches for his identity.
Pardo is brilliant as Princeton, displaying great puppet and character voice mastery; all the while he plays an additional role as uptight Rod, many times in the same scene, when relieved of his puppet by Platt. Humphreys, a Cal State Fullerton senior, takes on her first big role as Kate, the nice girl, and additionally voices Lucy the Slut. It really is something to marvel at when Pardo and Humphreys are navigating through scenes playing dual characters. Taught in a relatively short time by Director of Puppetry Christian Anderson, teacher and students are to be commended, as they deliver a capable and believable performance in their split personality roles.
Directors T.J. Dawson and C.J. Porter do a terrific job staging this Broadway/Off Broadway production, its first regional showing in Southern California. Porter knows the show well, as he toured with it during its first national run, and worked on the Vegas production. As has been with every show I have seen recently by 3D Theatricals, Dawson has made wise casting choices, from key role to ensemble. A highlight for me is the “Bad Decision Bears” that appear to Princeton in a visage similar to the Care Bears, whispering tempting ideas into his thoughts (buy a keg of beer, drink Long Island ice teas on a work night...). Patt and Danforth are just gleefully evil in these parts, and take the humor to a whole new level of wrong.
Danforth also brings us the naughtiest puppet, Trekkie Monster, whose addiction to porn ultimately saves the day for Avenue Q, and also plays Nicky, who is Rod’s carefree roommate a la Bert and Ernie. I am not going to give the entire story away, as part of the beauty of this show really is not knowing what to expect. What will those puppets and people do next, and how over the top will they get? Take the warnings that this is an adult-themed show, not for the little ones or for those easily offended.
The committed staff of 3D Theatricals ran this show in Fullerton, packed it up and have taken it up the coast a ways to offer this show to a broader audience in Redondo; a huge fete, accomplished by a relatively small team, and as I have come to find, that’s how they roll in this family-run business.
P.S. Having a bit of a sick sense of humor and an open mind will come in handy when seeing Avenue Q. It is a show where you can gasp and belly laugh with shameless abandon; a wonderful prescription for many and not a bad way to spend a weekend night in the South Bay.