Louise Avey reviews UMMTS’ production of Tony-winning musical Avenue Q
Avenue Q, renowned as one of the funniest musicals ever, and winner of the Tony Award for Best Musical delivered humour, realism, and playful fun to brighten my week.
This was a professional production through and through, and shown in the heart of our university, the Students’ Union. The characters, set design, and staging were all outstanding and every aspect of the musical production felt well thought-through.
The opening featured minimalistic staging and colour coding. As part of this, colourful doors represented moods and characters, with characters’ tops matching the doors of their homes.
The soundtrack was cheerful from the offset, mimicking the likes of uplifting ‘If You Were Gay’ and ‘Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist.’ These songs take serious and current issues, satirise them, and turn them into humour — a technique also seen in musicals like The Book of Mormon.
The use of screens acted as a form of detachment to distract you from the show and break the fourth wall. The line between audience and show was also broken during vibrant monologues and the musical number ‘Purpose’, in which the audience are asked for money and their views on homelessness. This technique made the audience somewhat uncomfortable and unsettled, but was good in bring light to the issue. The undercutting of the whole play when the main protagonist shouts that he will make a play out of his experiences, acts as comic relief and appeals to the audience.
The main idea behind Avenue Q is that, through the medium of singing, dancing, and puppeteering, we as the audience are offered the chance to laugh at the real problems we all face by watching characters form relationships, fulfil their dreams, and learn about life’s hardships.
The musical is able to expand beyond its form, offering togetherness as we personally identify with the characters, who are both realistic and likeable. It leaves the audience feeling fulfilled and happier then when we entered the theatre.
The professionalism of all of the characters and the director was mind blowing for a student production. This show felt as if it was ready for Broadway and could become its own touring performance. In particular, Anuli Changa, as child star Gary Coleman, commanded the stage with her presence.
Overall, an fantastic, enjoyable and immersive performance of a much-loved musical that I was glad to be introduced to.