The Clear Space Theatre Company is ready for opening night of the regional premiere of "Avenue Q." Cast and members are polishing their performances and admiring the biceps they’ve developed from handling their puppets for the monthlong rehearsal process, and the crew is busy with last-minute details on the sets, lights and costumes for the Friday, May 2 opening night.
The preshow reception has become an opening night tradition for many Clear Space regulars, and they won’t be disappointed when they visit Avenue Q. Included in the $40 opening night ticket are wine, beer, sodas and a lavish hors d’oeuvre buffet catered by Hobos Restaurant. At intermission, patrons will enjoy champagne and desserts, plus a chance to mingle with the cast after the show.
This witty, edgy musical won the 2004 Tony award for Best Original Score and Best Musical, 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.
"Avenue Q" plays at 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday evenings and at 3 p.m. Sunday afternoons through May 18, and it stars both human and puppet characters similar to those used on "Sesame Street" and "The Muppets," but it deals with adult themes such as finding a job, questioning one's sexuality, wondering why one can’t find a date, racism, the true reason for the internet and finding one's purpose in life.
Director Sydney Dodd Gray said, “As is becoming the norm for this slot in the Clear Space season, 'Avenue Q' is a bit of a departure. Starting with 'Little Shop of Horrors' in 2012, then '9 to 5: The Musical' last year, the May musical (getting us ready for the Summer Repertory season) is a very young, fresh, contemporary look at the future of musical theater. It is a chance for our actors and designers to stretch and grow as artists, as well as for audiences to experience shows they would otherwise have to go to New York to see.”
The Clear Space production features David Button as Princeton, who wonders what you 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) - 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 also assists with operating the puppets.
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!”
Tickets are available through the box office at 302-227-2270 or at www.ClearSpaceTheatre.org. Take advantage of the Buy 4 - Get 5 ticket special for the season. The production is for mature audiences only.
This program is made possible, in part by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts.