The Clear Space Theatre Company is in rehearsal for its next production, the area premiere of "Avenue Q." The show, which won the 2004 Tony award for Best Original Score and Best Musical, opens in Rehoboth Beach Friday, May 2, and plays through May 18.
"Avenue Q" stars both human and puppet characters similar to those used on Sesame Street and The Muppets, but deals with adult themes such as finding a job, questioning one's sexuality, wondering how to find a date, racism, the true reason for the internet and finding a purpose in life.
This witty, edgy musical premiered off Broadway before transferring to Broadway in 2003 and was written by Jeff Marx, Robert Lopez and Jeff Whitty. Lopez was also co-creator of "The Book of Mormon" and composed the songs for the Disney film "Frozen." He is one of only 12 people who have won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Award, and the only person to win all four within a decade.
“Since the founding of Clear Space I have waited for the perfect season to produce this hysterical show – and this is it," said Artistic Director Doug Yetter. "The brilliant writing and wit have made it somewhat of a contemporary classic, despite being only a decade old. The show represents what would happen if all those adorable puppets had to grow up and exist in the real world with real problems.”
The Clear Space production features David Button as Princeton, who wonders what to do in real life with a BA in English; Erin Williams as Kate Monster, a bookish teaching assistant who’s looking for someone to love and Lucy, who will make anyone she finds feel “special”.
Much like "Sesame Street," the show's essence is the artful interaction of fluffy monsters and earnest adults who help the puppet characters find their purpose in life. The human characters are played by Lorraine Steinhoff as Christmas Eve, an Asian therapist who has trouble attracting clients; Michael Matthias as her husband, Brian, who wants to be a comedian on late-night TV, and Jann Ellis as Gary Coleman, who now works as the building superintendent for Avenue Q.
The puppeteers are David Button, who gives voice to Rod, an investment banker and closeted Republican homosexual who lives with Nicky, voiced and operated by Matt Lewis. They are the Bert and Ernie characters in the show. Erin Williams lends her talents to both Kate Monster and Lucy. Other lovable characters in the show are The Bad Idea Bears, handled by Carissa Meiklejohn and Matt Lewis, two adorable, fun-loving and cuddly bears who steer others to make the wrong choices, and Trekkie Monster (Matt Lewis) who won’t leave his apartment due to his particular interest in the internet. Sydnee Smith assists with operating the puppets and Sydney Dodd Gray directs and choreographs the production.
As the opening number states: “You work real hard and the pay’s real low, and every hour goes, oh, so slow, and at the end of the day there’s nowhere to go, but home to Avenue Q!” The public is invited to join the Clear Space crew on Avenue Q!
The show plays at 7 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays, and at 3 p.m., Sundays Tickets are available through the box office at 302-227-2270 or at clearspacetheatre.org. The production is for mature audiences only.