This month, Fab Nobs Theatre Inc will bring Bayswater to its feet with the critically acclaimed, TONY “Triple Crown” winning musical, Avenue Q. The show follows protagonist Princeton’s (Timothy Oon) emotionally gruelling transformation from optimistic college graduate into one of the many dysfunctional characters that reside on Avenue Q. In company with his fellow apartment-block residents, he navigates through adult realms, including sexuality, existentialism, and racism, in order to find his purpose in life. With the aid of deliciously frivolous Sesame Street-esque puppetry, and a sardonic edge to the real-life issues which plague us all, the final product is bawdy, hilarious, and most importantly, entertaining.
As you could imagine, both the company and the production team were beyond eager to embark upon the journey of Avenue Q. Musical Director Danny Forward considers each number and scene a highlight, “the book is consistently hilarious and the score is one gem after another.” It also doesn’t hurt that the members of the cast and production team who were asked, confessed their personal affection for Sesame Street. Especially Forward who is “an out and proud Muppet geek from way back!”
Although it is arguably one of the funniest musicals to emerge in recent years, Avenue Q confronts some of the greatest anxieties associated with entering adulthood. The show is quite paradoxical in this respect, in that it uses idealistic and fanciful childhood puppets to explore particularly raw subject matter. This is a paradigm with which Sarah Somers (Christmas Eve) agrees, “For such a light-hearted show, it is surprising that there is such a serious message at the heart of it.” It sends a message which relates greatly to the desire to secure a definitive purpose for ourselves in life, and undergoing personal evolution. “It boils down to knowing who you are and the courage to reveal that to the world…it’s something to which everyone can relate”, elaborates Oon.
The production readily tackles the murky and somewhat foreboding depths of what it means to be a grown-up, as well as the aforementioned themes of identity. The portrayal of stark realism has the capacity to pose a performer their greatest challenge, nevertheless Oon and the rest of the cast embraced such trials in their stride. “One advantage [Avenue Q] has is its levity. Having…a bright blue puppet coming out of the closet is far less confronting than angsty teenagers. That said…we’ve constantly had to balance the tension between going for a laugh and keeping the presentation sincere.” Satirising the universal fears which often consume those who experience them, and communicating them in a highly comedic fashion, Jessica Barlow (Kate Monster) considers an extremely positive part of Avenue Q. “People love to laugh about taboo subjects”, she frankly surmises.
The themes present in the production may be intrinsically human, but the characters are evidently far from it. With a cast consisting of only three human characters and eleven puppet characters, mastering puppetry in such a short period of time was a difficult task for all involved. Nadia Gianinotti (Bad Idea Bear) found the process especially challenging, having to attend to ten different puppets throughout the show. She concedes that “working with these puppets has proved to be a lot more challenging than I realised…[but] we have all worked very hard at bringing these puppets to life and making them seem as real as possible.”
Some members of the cast even discovered the need to revise their personal performance styles in order to accommodate the requirements of the puppetry and narrative. “It’s been like learning how to perform all over again – it’s been frustrating…but insanely rewarding and I’ve emerged a better performer”, admits Barlow. The strictly human characters have also contested with having to interact with puppets as if human, according to Ang Cuy (Gary Coleman). “I also have to remind myself sometimes that I'm meant to be performing too – sometimes I get so caught up in enjoying the puppet show!”
One only has to listen to the vast praises and raging passion each individual involved directs towards the upcoming production of Avenue Q to know that it will be an absolute success. “The people, on and off stage, have been the most delightful, hilarious and hard-working you could ask for”, gushes Forward. Undoubtedly, the production will embody the unique and gifted attributes of the team. Audiences can rest assured, says Somers, that “we are all working together to bring you the most fun you can have with your clothes on!”
Fabs Nobs Theatre Inc presents Avenue Q from 16-31 March at the Fab Factory, 33 Industry Place, Bayswater.
To book tickets either go online at http://www.ticketbookings.com.au/events/fabnobs, or phone 0401 018 846.
In the meantime, enjoy some interviews with the lead characters!