Avenue Q at the Mercury Theatre

 

Music and Lyrics by Robert Lopez & Jeff  Marxmercury theater

Book by Jeff  Whitty

Directed by L. Walter Stearns

Music direction by Eugene Dizon

Choreographer Kevin Bellie

Hilarious and empathetic adult puppet show skillfully presented

I have seen and enjoyed several productions of Avenue Q and I must report that the Mercury Theatre’s production, under the steady direction from L. Walter Stearns, was the funniest and most heartfelt production of the adult puppet show – Avenue Q!

Avenue Q - Mercury Theater Chicago - Leah Morrow, Jackson Evans

Avenue Q is a puppet oriented musical about a group of low achieving 20-30something’s trying to make their way in New York City. They strive to find love and purpose while living in the low rent district of Avenue Q. The show is a tribute to all the children’s puppet shows that many grew up with—a sort of Sesame Street meet the Real World. It is NOT for children due to several funny sexual references including two puppets having sex on stage.

 

Filled with both live characters and puppets, Avenue Q’s world strives to teach its folks adult life lessons such as paying bills, getting a job and finding love. The street is filled with cute characters such as Princeton (Jackson Evans)—a recent college graduate who arrives at Avenue Q to find his life purpose. He meets Kate Monster (Leah Morrow)—a kindergarten teaching assistant who seeks a boyfriend. Her goal is to start a special school for Monsters.

Avenue Q - Mercury Theater Chicago - Leah Morrow

Nicky (Daniel Smeriglio)—a slacker and Rod’s roommate; Rod (Adam Fane)—Nicky’s roommate, a Republican investment banker who won’t admit he’s gay  despite his flamboyancy.

Trekkie Monster (Thom Van Ermen)—is a recluse porn addict; Lucy the Slut (Stephanie Herman) is a sexy cabaret singer.

Gary Coleman (Donterrio Johnson)—the former child star and present building super; Christmas Eve (Christine Bunuan) is a feisty Japanese therapist and Brian’s fiancé.  Brian (Sean Patrick Fawcett) is a 32 year old aspiring and unemployed comedian. The Bad Idea Bears (Stephanie Herman & Daniel Smeriglio) are Princeton and Kate’s inner devils while Mrs. T is Kate’s boss and elderly head teacher.

 

These folks tell their clever story through smart, funny songs that present as rhythmic and infectious little ditties. Songs like “It Sucks to Be Me” and “The Internet is for Porn” fuel the wacky adventures this group of ambivalent, indecisive and under achieving people are struggling with. We see each learning life lessons as each embrace the ups and down of adult city life. We relate and sympathize with these young folks. Their struggles are a mirror of us—they make us laugh as we laugh at ourselves.

This clever and tightly staged musical features excellent puppet work (puppet design by Russ Walko with puppetry  coaching by Kevin C. Noonchester) that delivers Lopez and Marx’s clever lyrics on their bouncy score to the delight of audiences.  The performances with the skilled comics and the delightful puppetry made for a funny show.

Jackson Evans , as Princeton and Leah Morrow, as Kate  Monster were among my favorites from a cast of accomplished troupe of talents that sang well, delivered laughs and won the hearts of the audience. Adam Fane, as the flaming queen Rob was a hoot!    Avenue Q  is a light-hearted, yet sophisticated musical that speaks to a generation struggling to find their purpose. Along the way, Avenue Q thoroughly entertains.  Caution: due to the adult sexy content, Avenue Q is not for children yet is absolutely a “must see” for adults.

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: April 28, 2014

Jeff Recommended

For more info checkout the Avenue Q  page at theatreinchicago.com

At the Mercury Theatre, 3745 N. Southport, Chicago, IL, call 773-325-1700, www.mercurytheaterchicago.com, tickets $20 – $59, Wednesdays & Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 2 & 8 pm, Sundays at 2 & 6:30 pm, running time is 2 hours, 15 minutes with intermission, through June 29, 2014