Monday, October 19, 2009

Avenue Q (Off-Broadway)

Watching Avenue Q at the New World Stages brought to mind a line from another musical: "It's so nice to have you back where you belong." It's great that Avenue Q had a long Broadway run, made a pile of money, and won some Tonys, but it fits better Off-Broadway, both in the size of its cast and band and the sensibility of its material. The whole concept of the Off-Broadway musical is making a comeback at the New World Stages, where Altar Boyz and Toxic Avenger are also happily ensconced. Would [title of show] still be running if it had stayed Off-Broadway? Would Passing Strange? Perhaps so, and New York theatre would be better for having both of them around.

About this latest incarnation of Avenue Q: the cast is excellent (especially Anika Larsen as Kate Monster and Lucy the slut) and the show remains energetic, clever, and entertaining. Some small complaints: the schadenfreude song is too mean-spirited for my taste, Rod is presented as overly fey (100% fey is enough; 150% is too much), and I have mixed feelings about the (funny) anti-German comment (hey, everybody is a little bit racist). Mostly, however, Avenue Q is a great show, pure and simple. (And for those who have a dozen theories about how it "stole" Wicked's Tony, here's my theory about why it won: it's smarter, funnier, and better written, with a consistently successful score.)

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