Want to go?
What: “Avenue Q,” a hit Broadway comedy presented by the Community Theatre of Greensboro
When: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 16-17, 21-24, 28-30 and Oct. 1; and 2 p.m. Sept. 18, 25 and Oct. 2
Where: Community Theatre of Greensboro, 520 S. Elm St. in downtown Greensboro
Tickets: $10-30 at the box office, by phone at (336) 333-7470 or online at http://ctgso.org. Wednesday performances are “Pay What You Can” nights.
Information: (336) 333-7470 or http://ctgso.org
“Avenue Q” may be in the same neighborhood as “Sesame Street,” but it’s a decidedly more adult location.
The Community Theatre of Greensboro is bringing the popular musical comedy back to the Triad starting Sept. 16. “Avenue Q” is a departure for CTG (and most theater companies, for that matter) in that it features puppets alongside the actors.
But although the puppet co-stars may look like cousins of Cookie Monster and Oscar the Grouch, they include such characters as Princeton, the recent college graduate struggling to find a job; Rod, the uptight banker whom the other puppets suspect of being gay; and Trekkie Monster, a weird neighbor obsessed with surfing the Internet for things far more adult oriented than cookies.
Some of the show’s song titles include “What Do You Do with a B.A. in English?” “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist,” “It Sucks to Be Me” and “There is Life Outside Your Apartment.”
The characters are young adults living in an urban neighborhood and facing grown-up problems for the first time.
Along the way, the characters form relationships, find new career opportunities and discover things about themselves that they never knew.
“Your first take is ‘How cute!’ or ‘How sweet!’ But as soon as they open their mouths, you realize they are talking about issues relevant to young professionals,” said Mitchel Sommers, CTG’s executive director.
“They address everything you could possibly imagine — college, sex, religion, LGBT issues, phobias, you name it … Nothing is held back, but in some theatrical way, it is incredibly entertaining. Since they are puppets, they can get away with it,” Sommers said.
He said staging a live performance that incorporates puppets presents a tremendous challenge from a production standpoint. The actors are onstage with the puppets, sometimes interacting with them, sometimes giving center stage to their felt co-stars. So “Avenue Q” requires a certain amount of suspension of disbelief on the part of the audience.
“I’d think the actors would find it challenging and exciting — and the audience would, too,” Sommers said.
CTG first staged “Avenue Q” five years ago, and it proved to be such a hit that Sommers felt it would be welcomed back. The play received a similarly warm reception on Broadway. After opening in 2003, it ran for more than 2,500 performances and picked up three Tony Awards (including Best Musical) along the way. Bobby Bodford, who directed CTG’s original production of “Avenue Q,” returns to direct this production.
Sommers said part of the appeal is that in the play, “everyone says what’s on their mind. And unlike in our world, they work it out.”