2013-03-23, 7:45 p.m.
I was obsessively listening to the soundtrack years and years before it finally made its way to California. Several years ago it finally made it to San Francisco and I saw a commercial for it while at my mom's. I was immediately all, "WE ARE GOING TO THIS!!!!!!!!!" And it was delightful to finally see what else is going on in that show besides the songs. (Plus my mom gave me the Avenue Q book, covered in fur, for Christmas.) I think Mom slept through parts of it, and uh...I really should have been nicer than to make her see the show with full puppet nudity.
That, however, did not stop me from, when I found out it was playing in West Sacramento, asking Mom to come along. Heck, I bought it for her as a pre-birthday gift. (For those wondering where mine is, that'll be an overnight stay on a river boat hotel in June. I do suspect given whose idea was what that our "who's getting gifted to who" is a little odd. But on the other hand, ever since I saw the Maverick movie, I always wanted to stay on a river boat....)
IT WAS AWESOME. I'm gonna put a link here, which I'm sure won't be viable after a few weeks, just to plug it to any random folks in my end of the state. Seriously, while seeing it in a big theater from far-ish off in SF was good, this was, in its own way, better. Much to my surprise, they were doing this one in a little black box theater. I assumed that this would probably be a pretty pricey show to put on for anyone what with all of the puppets (turns out you can rent them!) but the size worked well for black box because (a) the set itself is pretty small and (b) you got to see everyone up close and frequently, and they did stuff on the sides of the theater a lot.. Like during the "Give us your money" parts, they were going around hitting up people and giving sad looks when people either gave no money or took something out of the hat. The only thing that was not so great was the seating, because I thought I'd done well getting us third row seats together in the front, but since we weren't sitting on the platformed bits on the stage, Mom and I ended up behind people with big hair and couldn't see a good chunk of the action in front of the stage when people were sitting. She wasn't so thrilled about that.
But other than that, the performers were GREAT. I was particularly impressed with the actress that did the voices of Kate/Lucy--she really did the facial expressions of Kate so very well and so perfectly. I also have to give major props to the guy voicing Nicky/Trekkie/Bad Idea Bear and his face. I enjoyed the hell out of the adorable Gary Coleman and Christmas Eve--my favorite that I've ever seen doing those parts, I thinks. I tend to forget what this show is like without the music at times, like how it's performed--for example, people play more than one character, and will talk for both characters at the same time they're on stage together, but there's a few revolving puppeteers that will operate one of the two puppets. And as I watched them, I regarded the puppeteer as also the character, acting for two with their face as well as the puppet's body. Most of the "extra" puppeteers would act along even though they weren't doing the voices--especially the lady ones. The guy one stayed really deadpan when running the major characters, though, which was kind of a buzzkill when he was running Princeton at the end of act one. But when he was doing his own characters at the end, he did more acting--his Newcomer flipping everyone off was hysterical.
It's such a well done show. I love when stuff is funny but surprisingly has depth to it. And this show is awesome. You've got Princeton who doesn't know what his purpose is, and may not have even found it by the end of the episode (depending on how you define that). But when you think about it, the characters that care about that sort of thing (i.e. not Nicky), who DO know their purpose...well, it's not that easy. Brian wants to make people laugh and he's just not that good at it. Christmas Eve is a therapist who, well, you can tell whenever Rod goes to her that she's probably scaring the shit out of her clients at best. Kate actually has a teaching job and is beginning her purpose, but then ends up having to work at Barnes and Noble (until the end, anyway). Heck, just because you know what you want to do doesn't make it any easier, in some respects. And while Kate gets a miraculous ending, the other purpose-related victories are low key. Brian's a "consultant," whatever the hell that is, and Christmas Eve has only one regular client--which is admittedly an improvement and he comes a lot and she charges enough for them to move to Bushwick.
And the show is so HONEST about stuff. It sucks to be us, doesn't it? Everyone's a little bit racist when they're wishing the waiters would speak English. We all do a little inner smug gloat at watching people out in the rain. Normal people look at porn on the Internet. Everyone wants to be special, which they both are and aren't at the same time, and getting nookie with a girl who makes you feel special temporarily even though she doesn't think you are.... well, that's a commentary in itself for the comic relief "slut" character. This is an incredibly down to earth show that happens to features puppets who get drunk and have sex on stage, loudly. It's so us and now and it's awesome.
I should probably mention that when I went to Avenue Q the first time, I got a T-shirt on sale that says "It sucks to be me" with the show logo on the back. It's really awesome and not sold any more (I don't know WHY--the show website sells a shirt with the slogan, but it's not remotely as cute and doesn't match the show logo/lettering at all). I don't wear it that often, and when I had it on today I remembered why. Before going to the show, I dragged Mom to an art gallery I wanted to check out in Sacramento, and when a lady in her studio saw it, she got all disturbed. I was all, "It's a song in a show!" But when you wear it to the show....well, the cast actually hung out in the hallway to talk to people and take pictures after the show, and they loved mine. I told them about how I keep having to explain it's from a show. But it's a great show! "I'm staring at your boobs!" Gary Coleman noted in shock. "It's okay, everybody does it!" I said.
GREAT SHOW. If you can get to West Sac, go see these people. You will love it.
Incidentally, I have been trying and failing to find out more about how the show came to be. Yes, I have a whole book on this, but I find myself wondering things like, "Why the heck did they name Christmas Eve, Christmas Eve? How did that come about?" and I can't find it. I want to know! I did, however, find a giant Avenue Q playlist on YouTube of the "extra" songs as well. Fun times...