Excuse me, can you tell me the way to Avenue Q? Why of course I can!
On Friday evening, I skipped along Ossington Avenue on my way to see Avenue Q at the Lower Ossington Theatre, Toronto. My long shift at work was finally over, the temperatures were dropping into the minus figures, so I definitely needed something to lift my spirit.
Although I was aware of what the backstory to Avenue Q was, I had never seen it performed at all on stage; which made my excitement grow immensely. But for those unfamiliar with the tale, I will give you a quick run-through.
Avenue Q is first and foremost an award winning, live puppet show, with joint human interaction; meaning some of our characters are real people performing alongside the puppeteers and their hilarious stuffed companions.
The story follows Princeton (Chris Vergara) who has recently graduated from university with a B.A in English. Determined to seize the day and start to take life by the horns, he rents a room at an apartment block on Avenue Q. He soon meets a shy, intelligent and single teacher’s assistant called Kate, voiced by Liana Bdewi. They immediately hit it off, but certain situations stand in their way…one of them being a scarlet jessebelle known as Lucy.
If life wasn’t tricky enough, without 2 ladies competing for his affection, Princeton soon realises that his life is not the only dysfunctional one on Avenue Q. Next door resides Rod and Nicky , 2 guys who live together but little does Nicky know that Rod is madly in love with him. Upstairs live a human couple; carefree and relaxed Brian (Mark Willett) and his over-bearing, shoot from the hip, hilarious wife Christmas Eve (Rachelle Bradley). Next door to them resides the loud, brash neighbour Trekkie Monster (Joey Graff) whose obsession with sex; both of the physical and Internet kind, leaves his fellow tenants in shock at times. Kate’s boss and teacher Mrs Thistletwat (Kate Croome) lives nearby, ready to rain down criticism on Kate at any chance she gets…and all these crazies are housed under the one the one roof by superintendent & real-life, broke, sitcom star Gary Coleman (played by the incredible Jenna Daley).
But I hear you asking….is it for me? Would I enjoy a show featuring puppets? Believe me, I asked myself the same thing before the start of the show, but only 5 minutes into the performance, and I was loving every second of it. Just try to imagine Sesame Street or The Muppets…now add a truck load of adult humour, crude jokes, hilarious one liners, tongue in cheek comedy and a side-splitting musical score, and you have yourself a piece of comedy perfection.
From beginning to end, I did not want the show to finish, as with every scene, I was wiping tears of laughter from my cheeks. The SOLD OUT audience were in fits of giggles throughout, which just made the live experience more enjoyable, and proved that everybody was enjoying this remarkable show. And as it quickly approaches its 5th year anniversary at the Lower Ossington Theatre, the production directed by the marvellous Seanna Kennedy and choreographed by amazing actress and performer Michelle Shuster, is living proof that this is a show that Toronto audiences cannot get enough of.
The musical score is brilliant, with my favourite numbers being You Can Be As Loud as The Hell You Want, performed by Jenna Daley and company, as well as Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist and the upbeat tune, Schadenfreude.
And the set is absolutely adorable, which keeps loyal to typical puppet show sets of the 90’s, all thanks to set designer genius, Michael Galloro.
The cast themselves were perfect in every way, and actor/puppeteer brought their own humour-filled performances alive on stage. Liana Bdewi was a master of comedy, and even the smallest manipulation of puppetry was done in a dramatic and hilarious manner…not to mention her stunning vocals. Jenna Daley brought the smooth, cool and fun-fuelled Gary Coleman to life with on-point choreography, and a beautiful pitch perfect voice for the musical numbers. But it was Rachelle Bradley who had the entire audience bent over chuckling with her portrayal of the hilarious, zero-tolerance, straight talker Christmas Eve. Her confidence and delivery were second to none during her performance this week.
There is no question that everyone will adore this production…as it is without a doubt one of the funniest and creative shows you will ever get the pleasure of watching. Even the whole audience rose to their feet at the finale to give these incredible performers a standing ovation of appreciation.
So take my word for it and get you tickets now, by purchasing them at the theatre box office at 100A Lower Ossington Avenue, or to avoid disappointment, can be purchased online by clicking HERE.
Performances are from Thursday’s through to Sunday’s and continue from now up until January 29th 2017.
I don’t usually give many of these out but Avenue Q; without a doubt, deserves a *5 OUT OF 5 STAR RATING*. Well done everyone.