Did you ever wonder what would have happened if Sesame Street grew up with us and continued teaching us important life lessons even as adults? Wonder no more –Avenue Q has made its way to downtown Raleigh with Hot Summer Nights | Theatre Raleigh.
Avenue Q tells the story of a puppet named Princeton, whose goal in life is to find his purpose, as he moves to the neighborhood, makes friends, dates, and struggles to pay the bills. Like Sesame Street, Avenue Q features both human and puppet characters. The puppets are cute, but hardly innocent. These puppets sing, swear, drink, and have sex. They also learn, love, and grow as they make their way through life in New York City. For all the hilarious and crazy antics in Avenue Q, what remains at the end is a sweet and resonant story of finding life's purpose.
The cast, both human and puppeteer, flourished under the direction of Richard Roland. The ensemble created a community of caring people (furry and otherwise) which was relatable and convincing. As both Kate Monster and Lucy, Annie Floor stood out as the show's gem. There were even scenes where she played both characters, providing all the dialogue. Her vocals in "Special" (as the seductive Lucy) and "There's a Fine, Fine Line" (as the innocent but scrappy Kate Monster) particularly showcased her incredible talent as a performer.
The set, with the exception of having addresses 6 and 9 on the same side of the street, was well-utilized to meet the needs of the show. While the set is the front of three NYC townhouses, it easily adapts to many indoor and outdoor venues. Aside from a few late spotlights, the technical elements of the show were excellent, especially the video segments. In true Sesame Street fashion, Avenue Q has several video interludes which enhance the show. The projection of these onto the "window" of one of the buildings is a great idea – that screen is even used for scenery at a few points.
In short, Avenue Q at Hot Summer Nights | Theatre Raleigh is a home run. The cast nailed it, and you don't want to miss it.
Avenue Q plays through August 19 at the Fletcher Opera Theater at the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Raleigh. For tickets and more information, visit www.hotsummernightsatthekennedy.org.