Avenue Q – the little show that could

Who would have thought that when Avenue Q, the little show that could, premiered off-Broadway in 2003 that within a decade it would become a classic and be performed by theatre companies all over the world?

Avenue Q at IPAC
Avenue Q IPAC. Image supplied

The show, for those who have been living under a rock, is basically the adult version of Sesame Street where the puppet characters face real-life problems. It’s hysterically funny and at times poignant.

It’s the type of musical that you can see several times and still laugh raucously. Wollongong-based production company SoPopera! have created a production that bubbles along with energy and laughs.

While a lot of the singing isn’t quite what you’d hope for, all the jokes land perfectly, which is really the most important thing about Avenue Q.

Andrew Dengate and Jess Wilkinson are charismatic as Princeton and Kate Monster and you genuinely want them to get together in the end (I don’t want to spoil it, but they do). Wilkinson has, by far, the best voice in the cast.

Adam Jarrett brings surprising tenderness to Rod and Jack Arnold has comic timing well beyond his years as Nicky. Special mention has to go to Anthony Keen as Trekkie Monster, for winning laughs with great grumbling character vocals.

Working just as hard is musical director Cameron Zingel who, along with a small band, brings the score to life with great energy.

The most astounding thing about this production is the set. Mal and Donna Copeland have constructed something that’s better than what most professional theatre companies create and conveys the hustle and bustle of a backstreet in New York perfectly.

Director Amy Copeland is a young newcomer who has pulled off some really remarkable logistical feats with this show.

It’s not a groundbreaking or particularly original production, but she’s tackled all the technical elements of a musical of this scale with great skill. You can only hope she’ll continue to bring quality, modern musical theatre to audiences who don’t always get the chance to have these experiences.

It’s essentially a faithful reproduction of the Broadway and Australian touring versions, but it’s a fantastic opportunity for rusted on Avenue Q fans to revisit one of the best musicals in recent times and for new audiences to discover why this show comes with so much buzz.

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