Ever heard of Avenue Q?
Avenue Q is a musical-comedy that utilizes live actors along with an ensemble of hand puppets.
Winner of the Tony "Triple Crown" for Best Musical, Best Score, and Best Book, Avenue Q's plot involves a recent college grad named Princeton who moves into a shabby New York apartment on Avenue Q. Together, Princeton and his new-found friends struggle to find jobs, dates, and their ever-elusive purpose in life.
It's also been called an irreverent version of Sesame Street all grown up for adults, complete with puppet sex and witty jokes.
Is my hometown of London ready for this? Well, if they could handle Puppetry Of the Penis a few years ago, I'd say they're ready for anything.
Original Kids Theatre Company Alumni are presenting the first local production of the Tony Award-winning smash hit on Broadway later this month. The Canadian troupe has learned all the right tricks with life-size replicas of the puppets used on Broadway.
There's a lot of talent involved but I thought it would be more interesting to DISH with the puppets instead. Huge Spoiler Alert: While the puppets may appear cute and cuddly, Avenue Q features sexual content, coarse language and is intended for a mature audience, as does this interview!
What do you call yourselves?
Rod (Andrew Varkaris): My name is Rodrick Jayne McQuiggly. But you can call me Rod.
Gary Coleman (Rebecca Hall): My name is Gary Coleman. I call myself Gary Coleman. Everyone basically calls me Gary Coleman.
Mrs. Thistletwat (Sarah Ashby): My name is Mrs. Thistletwat and I prefer to be called that so the children will respect me.
I'm not touching that one...
Princeton (Nate): Uhhhh, Princeton? My last name is Marx if that helps?
Kate Monster (Cassandra Hodgins): My name is Kate Monster. Yes, I am a Person of Fur. No...I am NOT related to every other Monster on the planet!
Lucy the Slut (Becky Blake): Well, I mean -- my parents named me Jenny Peatree, but I was never going to get anywhere with a name like that. Since I left home I have been Lucy. Lucy T. Slut.
From Peatree to Slut; now I'm really intrigued by your show. Do you perform the entire show with hands up your -- well, you know....
Rod (Andrew Varkaris): What on EARTH are you insinuating?! If you are asking what I think you are asking then the answer is NO! There is no hand there. And if there were I would hate it! And would definitely not beg for more every night in my fantasies.
Rod, thou doth protest too much...
Princeton (Nate): Huh? I usually keep my hands at my side, but if a booger is really lodged in there I guess I'd give it a yank.
I guess that excuse for a yank is a good as any.
Gary Coleman (Rebecca Hall): As far as I know, there are no hands anywhere except for mine! But you know what they say: You can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs!
Guess the yoke's on you.
Lucy the Slut (Becky Blake): Oh no honey, I save that kind of business for my private life. Don't get me wrong I wouldn't mind a little of that in the show every so often.
You must be one busy puppet!
Mrs. Thistletwat (Sarah Ashby): How dare you! What a disgusting thing to say! God would be very disappointed in you young man!
Thanks for calling me young. This is your first time in London, eh? What stands out about our city so far?
Mrs. Thistletwat (Sarah Ashby): The lack of monsters! I think I would love it here.
You must have just got off the bus, dear.
Gary Coleman (Rebecca Hall): No one here knows me so I don't keep getting people stopping me on the street saying, "What you talkin 'bout, Willis?" I'm Gary, not Willis!
Do the humans ever complain about being upstaged by dummies?
Rod (Andrew Varkaris): My human, Andrew, is very difficult to work with. He complains non-stop and makes me sleep in a box.
Kate (Cassandra Hodgins): Cassandra and I work well together. However, she does have a tendency to have what I like to call 'clammy hands syndrome.' Ew.
Any divas in the house? (Sorry, readers, kind of a rhetorical question by this point.)
Mrs. Thistletwat (Sarah Ashby): That Rod character. He says he will only perform if he gets his own dressing room filled with Beyonce posters and Starbucks. There's something off about that boy.
Rod (Andrew Varkaris): Um, yours truly! I follow the ancient, ritualistic ways of the great diva goddess, Beyonce.
Kate (Cassandra Hodgins): Lucy. Nothing says 'diva' more than thinking every person at the bar is your waitress.
Lucy the Slut (Becky Blake): That little monster....what's her name? Kate? I don't know but I'm pretty sure she is a waitress where I work and a cleaning lady for a few guys I've.....ya know. Always super touchy and so rude.
Sounds like a cat fight in the making...Do you try to upstage each other?
Rod (Andrew Varkaris): I don't need to try, it just happens.
Mrs. Thistletwat (Sarah Ashby): Please, everyone here knows who is in charge. No one dares to try to upstage me.
Lucy the Slut (Becky Blake): Look at me -- who can upstage all of THIS?
I was sure you'd jump in at this point, Rod. Who's the serious one? Funniest? Loudest? Shyest? Best Actor/Actress?
Rod (Andrew Varkahris): Me. Me to all of that. And also the slimmest and the most stylish.
I see I spoke too soon.
Gary Coleman (Rebecca Hall): I'm probably the loudest, I mean, when you're 4'5", it's important to get attention somehow.
Lucy the Slut (Becky Blake): Seriously? Again, probably that little monster girl. Loudest -- maybe that Trekkie creature always pawing after me during my sets. Best actress is clearly myself as I am a paid professional performer. If you have seen my shows you would know I am very convincing.
I'll take your word for it, Ms. Slut.
Princeton (Nate): Serious: Kate. She's got it all together, which is terrific. Funny: NOT Brian. Probably Nicky, I mean he just doesn't really give a shit. Or Gary, also gives very few shits, but in a more frank way. Loudest: Lucy's a screamer. Best Actor/Actress: Are we auditioning for a play or something?
What makes you stand out from the rest?
Thistletwat (Sarah Ashby): My prim and proper attitude, as well as how I am able to work with a monster and not lose all of my hair.
Then you are gifted.
Rod (Andrew Varkaris): My hot Canadian girlfriend! Who is real!
Gary Coleman (Rebecca Hall): I'm short. There are literally no other discernible features. Oh damn! And I'm a former child star from TV's Different Strokes, I always forget that. But I'm poor now.
Lucy the Slut (Becky Blake): My t**s. Oops I forgot this is for an interview. Can I say chest? MY CHEST.
As I said to Ms. Thistletwat a moment ago, you too are blessed. I can't believe I am bothering to even ask, but do you have individual skills?
Thistletwat (Sarah Ashby): I do have one super secret talent that no one knows of. It's my ability to breed cats! I am the best breeder in North America they say!
I'd love to see one of your pussies.
Gary Coleman (Rebecca Hall): As you know, absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Mr. Gary Coleman, I'm just biting my tongue.
Kate (Cassandra Hodgins): I can keep a game of Jenga going until there's only one block on each level!
How exciting for you.
Lucy the Slut (Becky Blake): I have quite a few actually. Most that I am not allowed to talk about in the daytime. However I can dance circles around anyone on this stage and not even break a sweat doing it.
You know I've heard that one before. Do you have "star" demands in your contracts with OKTC?
Mrs. Thistletwat (Sarah Ashby): A full glass of prune juice with a slice of lime must be in my hand and ready to drink no more than 10 minutes before the show.
God, sounds like one show I worked on...oh, your stage manager must just love you.
Lucy the Slut (Becky Blake): My hair must be combed and carefully prepared before every performance. I require a jaw massage frequently -- it is tough having someone opening and closing my mouth for hours on end!
My best friend says you get used it. Just don't quit your night job. How would you define Avenue Q for the newbies out there?
Princeton (Nate): A story of discovery and acceptance that all things in life a merely temporary.
Mrs. Thistletwat (Sarah Ashby): It's a tale about the consequences of being rude to your boss, as well as some other things like love or something.
Rod (Andrew Varkaris): It's an Art House piece that is mainly about me and my womanizing antics.
Gary Coleman (Rebecca Hall): It's Rod's personal journey as a Casanova. (Got your back, Rod.)
Lucy the Slut (Becky Blake): It is a show featuring a beautiful, bodacious woman showing off what she was born with....and yeah, they're real.