Arts / Racy puppets highlight R-rated topics

CANBERRA audiences can rest assured they’re not losing it – yes, the newest local production of the musical “Avenue Q” is actually being performed at The Q, the Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre.

Nick Valois plays Princeton

The show is, of course, the 2004 Tony award winner for the best new musical, best book of a musical and best original score, and it’s a winner wherever it goes.

Jarrad West is directing the show for SUPA Productions, together with musical director Elizabeth Alford and choreographer Pierce Jackson.

Josie Dunham as Lucy T Slut

“It’s R-rated,” SUPA says. This is adult puppetry writ large, making sex scenes possible that would cause alarm if performed by human actors, so you’d better leave smaller children at home. One is reminded of the bloody suicide scenes in Japanese “bunraku” puppet theatre—you could never do it with humans.

The show follows the story of a recent college graduate, Princeton, (Nick Valois) trying to find his way in in an “outer-outer borough” of New York City on Avenue Q and it’s got songs with great titles, like “It Sucks to Be Me ” and “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist”.

Princeton asks himself, like so many others over the ages, what on earth he can do with a BA. His new neighbours include Kate Monster, a kindergarten teaching assistant, Rod, a Republican banker, Nicky, his roommate, Trekkie Monster, a recluse who surfs the internet all day and Gary Coleman, the building superintendent. Oh, and a couple of very irresponsible bears.

Kate O’Sullivan and Dave Smith as The Bad Idea Bears and Emma McCormack as Kate Monster

Yes it’s inspired by “Sesame Street”, but it’s a lot racier. Funnily enough, though, puppetry and the brilliant acting opportunities offered in the script allow “Avenue Q” to be, as SUPA sees it, “more reflective of the difficult, R-rated realities that we face when we learn that real life isn’t as simple as we dreamed it might be”.

As for whether you should bring the kids, this is exactly what SUPA says: “If your teenager is mature enough to see a musical about issues such as sex, drinking, and surfing the web for porn, then they’ll probably love ‘Avenue Q’ too! Only you can judge.”

“It’s hard to say what exact age is right to see ‘Avenue Q’ – parents should use their discretion based on the maturity level of their children. But we promise you this – if you do bring your teenagers to ‘Avenue Q’ – they’ll think you’re really cool.”

SUPA Productions presents “Avenue Q” at the Q (Performing Arts Centre) Crawford Street, Queanbeyan, and April 28 to May 13. “Avenue Q” is R-rated, featuring adult topics, offensive language, and an onstage portrayal of puppet sex. Children under five are not admitted.

All photos by Steph and Craig Burgess of Family Fotographics


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