Don't be fooled by the puppets - this is not your children's musical. 'Avenue Q,' the Tony Award-winning show is definitely adult entertainment - lots of expletives-not-deleted and plenty of sexual innuendo and more. Alpha Omega Players have taken on edgy shows before, and this one goes right to the brink - in a good way.
'Avenue Q' deftly lampoons human foibles, flaws and frustrations with outrageous humor, situations and songs. Some of the titles, 'If You Were Gay,' 'Everyone's a Little Bit Racist' and 'The Internet Is For Porn,' will give you an idea of what the show is all about.
Set in an apartment building in a not-so-great neighborhood in New York, it focuses on the tenants, mostly in their 20s, who are trying to make their way in the world. Most of the characters have alter-ego puppets, presenting a triple challenge for the actors - singing, acting and making the puppets come to life.
The cast spent months working with their counterparts, and the work has paid off. It was amazing to watch how seamlessly the humans and puppets melded. It was like the puppets were a natural extension of the actor.
Prime examples of that synchronicity are Sean Deffley and Emily Kuhns who play principle roles in the show.
Deffley plays Princeton, a naive college grad, who has just moved to the big city and is confronted with the reality of the real world. He also plays Rod, one of two guys who live together, but are 'not gay,' or so they say. He contributes dynamite vocals throughout the show, with different voices depending on which character he's playing.
Kuhns plays Kate Monster, Princeton's friend and eventual love interest. Her vocal performances are spot-on, from the upbeat 'Everyone's a Little Bit Racist' to the memorable ballad, 'There's A Fine, Fine Line.' Her comedic skills match her vocal talent, making Kate a favorite with the audience.
The entire cast includes multi-talented actors who have mastered the challenges of this truly unique musical.
Also taking on two roles is Alexander P. Bannon as Nicky and Trekkie Monster. Nicky is Rod's roommate and Trekkie Monster is an over-the-top, antisocial grouch. Both characters are fun, but Trekkie's rendition of 'The Internet Is For Porn,' is one of the highpoints of the show.
Heidi Carletti landed one of the most fun-to-play roles as Lucy the Slut, a seductive stripper-type who captures the attention of the males in the cast - both monsters and humans. She delivers a delightfully lusty performance that showcases her vocal and comedic skills.
The neighborhood also includes a married couple, Christmas Eve, a Japanese immigrant played by Julie Kellar and her husband, Brian, a wannabe comedian, played by Stephen Barszowski. Keller shines in the second act with her performance of 'The More You Ruv Someone, (you want to kill them)' and Barszowski delivers an energetic and laugh-inducing number, 'I'm Not Wearing Underwear Today.'
James Barksdale takes on another of the unusual characters as Gary Coleman, the former 'Diff'rent Strokes' TV star, who is now reduced to managing an apartment building. Barksdale, who is well over 6 feet tall, uses his comedic timing and phrasing to make it all work. I suspect Coleman, who died in 2010, would have gotten a kick out of his performance.
Melissa Kauffmann, who choreographed the show, also handles the roles of Mrs. T, an uptight kindergarten teacher, and puppet handler - some of the puppets require two people.
Rounding out the cast are Amy Swartz and Gordon Joyner as the Bad Idea Bears. The two create delightfully mischievous critters who tempt Princeton and the other characters into drinking too much and other forms of bad behavior.
Director Mark A. Drey has pulled together the perfect cast to master the puppetry, music and insanity of this extremely irreverent musical.
Unseen, but supporting the cast is a talented group of musicians. Nathan Patton and James Damore provided
musical direction for the show.
This show is not for everybody - it is laced with language that may be offensive to some people, and there are sexual scenes - albeit involving naked puppets - that are not suitable for children. But, if you are looking for a hilarious, rollicking romp at the theater - head on over to 'Avenue Q' in Birdsboro.
Remaining performances are at 8 p.m. April 4 and 5 and 3 p.m. April 6 in the Alpha/Omega Performing Arts Center, 301 E. First Street, Birdsboro, 19508.
For reservations, call 610-404-4844.