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London Review June 9, 2006

Posted by thefreakybrit in Uncategorized.
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Avenue Q Review

Avenue Q has achieved a large amount of fame and critical acclaim in a relatively short period of time. Spawning three separate shows in Broadway, Las Vegas and the recently opened London show at the Noel Coward theatre, Avenue Q well and truly deserved to receive the Tony Award for “Best Musical”.  The thing that distinguishes Avenue Q the most from other musicals is not only its outrageous but amazing music (more about that later) but also the fact that Avenue Qs cast is made up largely of puppets.

 

Many people wondered if the show would translate well for a British audience, however. The London performance premiered on the 1st of June and I was there for the occasion.

 

I should mention before starting that I have been a “Q” fan for a long time before seeing the show so my expectations were high.

 

The Noel Coward theatre is a very cosy place to visit, nothing like the grand theatres for other recently released musicals such as “We Will Rock You” or “The Lion King”. This really just enhanced the whole experience however, and made it much more enjoyable. Entering the auditorium we had our first view of ‘Avenue Q’ itself – a tumbledown row of small, two storey buildings which will serve as the set for the entire show. Taking our seats we waited with anticipation for the show to start.

 

Even though I consider myself pretty well read on all things “Q”, I wasn’t expecting the opening that we received. I shan’t spoil it for those preparing to visit but needless to say, it’s damn funny. The first half of the show is a fantastic medley of hilarious songs and dialogue, featuring song titles such as “If you were gay”, “Everyone’s a little bit racist” and the infamous “The Internet is for Porn”. The main plot of “Avenue Q” follows the life of Princeton, a bright eyed college graduate determined to make his mark on the world and to find his “Purpose”. The show details how his life, and the lives of all those living on Avenue Q change over time. The show isn’t linear by any means however. Subplots are fast and frequent, whether it is concerning the sexual orientation of certain “investment banking republicans” or what one should really use the internet for. All these subplots are expertly linked to the main plot, making for a slick and engaging performance. It should be noted that Avenue Q is definitely rated as a show to watch with caution and an open mind, probably not a good idea to bring anyone much younger than 12 to see it.

 

The cast were fantastic without exception. Special mentions should go to Simon Lipkin who played the roles of Nicky and Trekkie Monster, with his hand up a puppets backside for both. He threw himself completely into his roles and gave a world class performance. Clare Foster also performed with great enthusiasm and played a staggering number of roles including being the second hand of Nicky and Trekkie Monster, Mrs Bear and a myriad of other small parts.

 

The actual music of the show is simply perfect. Brilliant compositions with fantastic parts and harmonies; equalling and, some might agree, surpassing anything Webber has produced. The music seems to be heavily influenced by traditional style “big band” musicals with fantastic chorus crescendos and real “jazz hand” endings. Many people criticise the music of Avenue Q for being simply one crass song after another. Upon watching the show however, most people will immediately change their minds, generally due to the soaring melodies featured in “Fine Fine Line” (a wistful ballad sung by the lovelorn Kate Monster.) Anybody who knows musical theatre will pick up on this song, not only because of its stark contrast to most of the other music of Avenue Q, but also for true musical genius. This song deserves being placed alongside such musical greats as “Memory” and “So Long As He Needs Me”. Mostly however, the songs are just bouncy, energetic and laugh out loud funny.

 

Despite this, a failure that should be mentioned is the seemingly random cuts of some songs from their original length and lyrics. Most of these are very annoying and completely pointless, especially to established “Q” fans such as myself. At the premier there was also a major character change from the original for the London audience. The character of “Gary Coleman” (yes that Gary Coleman) to just plain “Gary”. It was assumed that a British audience wouldn’t understand the background of “Gary Coleman”. This effected many song lyrics (although not all of those that were changed!) and many scenes. Thankfully, probably due to intense criticism, this change has been rectified and the London crowd can enjoy the show with the original characters.

 

Overall the show outshone itself, fulfilling my expectations in everyway; and the cast deserved the standing ovation they received.

 

So did Avenue Q make the transfer from Broadway to the West End successfully? Well the answer is undoubtedly YES!

 

by The Freaky Brit 

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Comments»

1. Q-Fans.com off the Forums / Nick - June 10, 2006

Gawd, we all love you freaky brit =D

*Bookmarks site* Thanks for the lovely review, now where is this review of the back of Graham Norton’s head you promised ^_^

2. thefreakybrit - June 10, 2006

LOL! Thanks very much

review of Graham Norton’s heads is as follows

*quite nice, with lovley views the Avenue Q stage just beyond it, in conclusion everthing you could want from the back of somones head*

3. Q-Fans.com off the Forums / Nick - June 10, 2006

Lucky so-and-so, have to wait ’till August to watch it.

4. avenueq - June 12, 2006

Yay FB!!! Great review, well done – keep it up!

5. Nigel - June 17, 2006

Great review – I’m really looking forward to seeing it on 1 July and even more so after reading this. Could you say a bit more about the small cuts in songs (apart from the Gary Coleman bit which sounds from what you say as if it’s now been uncut)? I get the impression that they might be annoying if you know the Broadway version and the cast album (which I do), but I’d quite like to know what’s been snipped if you can remember.

6. The Freaky Brit - June 18, 2006

Lets see……Right the Gary Coleman thing has been put right yes although aparently there are still some lyric changes from the Broadway version (I do not know what these are unfortunatly). The Changes I can remember are in “Schedenfrede” where the entire middle section was cut from the song *straight a students getting B’s* etc. and also little liens in there were changed. Also in “The Money Song” where the bit where Christmas Eve and Brian turn up was changed from how it is to the cast singing something along the lines of “when you help a monster child…*somethign somthign something*” but it was completely pointless whatever. Thats all I can remember, hopefully many of these will have been rectified by the time you go to see it. Enjoy the show!

7. Nigel - June 19, 2006

Thanks. It’s a real shame about cutting that section in Schadenfreude – it’s very funny too, so a weird decision. I’m sure I’m going to love the show in any case, yes 🙂 Hope you get a chance to go see it again?


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