Book by Jeff Whitty.
Music & Lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx
The Old Joint Stock Musical Theatre Company:
Old Joint Stock Theatre, Birmingham
12th – 22nd June 7:30pm Mat 21st -22nd 2:00 pm
Runs: 2hr 20m (one interval)
Review: Sam Chipman 13.06.2014
Too overwhelming for such a small venue – but still with laughs
AVENUE Q is probably funnier and more memorable on first viewing . . . however it’s still able to produce laughs so long as it is performed with conviction – which it is here.
Rather like an adult version of Sesame Street, the success of Avenue Q is determined in part by how focussed one can be on the puppets and the interaction between the puppets and humans.
The small space of the Old Joint Stock Theatre does not do any credits to Avenue Q, in fact it poses a few issues. The closeness is simply too inhibiting, we are practically right on top of the cast. Moments performed at the other side of the stage leave us feeling isolated, with us staring only at the back of the puppets head at times, not allowing us to suspend disbelief in the way that is required.
The cast make as much as they can of the closeness, individually engaging audience members in appropriate places; this is clever and amusing but doesn’t make up for the chunks of the performance we miss.
The use of click tracks rather than a live band is also an issue. It makes musical entrances feel clunky, not allowing the performers much creative freedom. There are some awkward uncomfortable moments where the music is quite clearly a hindrance to cast, which is noticeable on far too many occasions.
This aside, the cast perform admirably throughout; although there is some imitation of the Original Cast Recording, which renders certain acting choices and staging slightly insincere.
Sarah Haines is charming as Kate Monster and Joshua Anderson gives an astute performance as Princeton. Karl Steele and Hannah Kilroy are excellent as the Bad Idea Bears, bringing some of the funnier moments of the evening. Simon Burgess and Phil John work well together as Rod and Nicky and Patison Harrigan as Gary Coleman has good comedic timing.
Light hearted fun, but the musical undoubtedly fares much better in a traditional proscenium arch theatre – Too overwhelming a show for such a small venue.
Princeton: Joshua Anderson
Kate Monster: Sarah Haines
Nicky: Phil John & Michelle Burgess
Rod: Simon Burgess
Gary Coleman: Patison Harrigan
Christmas Eve: Zane Hoang
Brian: Chris Fox
Trekkie Monster: Ben Foulds & James Kelly
Lucy: Charlotte White
Mrs T: Jessica Birtwistle
Girl Bad Idea Bear: Hannah Kilroy
Boy Bad Idea Bear: Karl Steele
The New Kid: Richard Haines
Ricky: James Kelly
Producer/Director: Richard Haines
Musical Director/Co-Producer: Karl Steele
Choreographer & Wardrobe: Sarah Haines
Vocal Coach: Alanna Boden