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Can You Tell Me How to Get to Avenue Q? Only If You’re an Adult! at The Little Theatre of Alexandria

Jordan Wright
July 28, 2013
Special to The Alexandria Times

Bad Idea Bears (puppets), Matt Liptak and Charlene Sloan - Photos by Keith Waters

Bad Idea Bears (puppets), Matt Liptak and Charlene Sloan - Photos by Keith Waters

 With the presentation of Avenue Q The Little Theatre of Alexandria continues its successful leap into the 21st century, with productions that a few years ago would have seemed, well, unseemly to their faithful supporters.  My, how times have changed.  No longer content with a steady diet of British farce, show tunes and murder mysteries, the theater has branched out this year to include complex religious themes in the sensitive and brilliantly crafted Cantorial, racy topics with a splash of nudity in the hilarious The Full Monty, and now X-rated humor with the uproarious musical Avenue Q.   It’s taken some adjusting from the Old Guard benefactors.  Overheard – “If they say a bad word, I told him I’d cover his ears.”.  Even the director’s notes encourage playgoers to loosen up with this comment, “Let political correctness and sexual and social propriety take a back seat…” But all theaters know they must attract newer, younger audiences and in this day and age swear words and sex talk is everyday TV fare.

Avenue Q picks up where Sesame Street left off.  It centers on the generations of kids who grew up with the furry puppets and kooky TV characters that cheered them on, mollified their fears, and taught them the alphabet and, who now as young adults entering the work force, struggle to realize their dreams.  The actors, who are quite visible to the audience and mimic the puppets’ emotions, manipulate the twelve furry creatures in a set-to-music guide to the galaxy filled with lessons on love, sex and the Internet.

James Hotsko Jr., Kate Monster (puppet), and Kristina Hopkins - Photos by Keith Waters

James Hotsko Jr., Kate Monster (puppet), and Kristina Hopkins - Photos by Keith Waters

Everything takes place on Avenue Q.  Princeton (Sean Garcia) is new to the neighborhood.  He’s just graduated college but his life has no purpose, “What Do You Do With a B. A. in English”, he posits.  Kate Monster (Kristina Hopkins) is the girl-next-door, an aspiring teacher that Princeton falls madly in love with.  Unfortunately he thinks love is not fulfilling enough in his self-absorbed world of job searches and grown-up responsibilities.  Christmas Eve (Stephanie Gaia Chu) is the neighborhood’s crazy Japanese lady and psychotherapist, who doesn’t care if she is perceived as Chinese or Korean, but won’t abide by the term Oriental, her significant other is Brian, an out of work Caucasian who wants to be a stand-up comedian.

Princeton (puppet) and Sean Garcia - Photos by Keith Waters

Princeton (puppet) and Sean Garcia - Photos by Keith Waters

Nicky (Matt Liptak) and Rod (Sean Garcia) are roommates.   Rod, who is still in the closet, hopes to convince everyone otherwise with the song, “My Girlfriend Who Lives In Canada”.   And then there are the cuddly cute Bad Idea Bears (Charlene Sloan and Matt Liptak), who try to undermine everyone’s better judgment by sobbing uncontrollably when their devilish advice is not taken.

Gary Coleman (Aerika Saxe) is the street-smart African-American superintendent who balances out the yuppies’ dilemmas with real life issues in the number “Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist”.  But they all agree on one thing, including Trekkie (Matt Liptak), the kindhearted but scary monster, in “The Internet Is for Porn”.  “He a pervert,” Christmas Eve suggests, but he’s no match for Lucy the Slut (Claire O’Brien), whose Mae West allure has Princeton in her thrall.

Lucy the Slut (puppet) and Claire O’Brien - Photos by Keith Waters

Lucy the Slut (puppet) and Claire O’Brien - Photos by Keith Waters

In a show where puppets rule, the actor’s expressions, as they mirror the speaking parts of their hairy avatars, are crucial.  Each actor must take on their puppet’s personality and dialogue, both physically and verbally.  To say that this troupe excels in their character’s puppet persona, is an understatement and a tribute to Director Frank D. Shutts II’s superb casting as well as Puppet Master Kristopher Kauff and Puppet Wrangler Katherine Dilaber, who taught eight neophytes the art of puppeteering.

Highly recommended.  For adults only.

Through August 17th at The Little Theatre of Alexandria, 600 Wolfe Street. For tickets and information call the box office at 703 683-0496 or visit www.thelittletheatre.com

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