"Avenue Q" crude, irreverent and heartfelt


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Posted Online: March 20, 2013, 10:13 am
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By Kevin Smith, ksmith@qconline.com

Despite being new to theater, I felt ready for whatever the hilariously trashy "Avenue Q" had to throw at me. But I was not emotionally prepared for the puppet sex.

In its return to the District Theatre, the irreverent musical spoofs Sesame Street as it pokes fun at racism and homophobia with a lightheartedness that seems to channel South Park. Directed again by Marc Ciemiewicz and under musical direction by Randin Turner, the show is a complete riot.

Since the District Theatre's launch in summer 2011, artistic director Tristan Tapscott already has taken on some of the edgier plays and musicals like "Rocky Horror" and "Rent" with gusto. And after a nearly sold-old run with "Avenue Q" last fall, he decided to revamp the show and bring it back for those who missed out.

"Avenue Q" follows the life of Princeton, a broke college grad who moves to New York with ambitions of proving himself to the world. With few options open to him he settles for an apartment on Avenue Q, where he fits in right away with the curious cast of misfits, all aspiring for a decent job, a stable relationship and a "purpose."

Scored with jaunty tunes like "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist" and "The Internet is for Porn," the show is unapologetically crude.A fit of joyous hysteria erupted throughout the theater as Gary Coleman serenaded two puppets with "You Can Be as Loud as the Hell You Want" as they frantically banged it out.

Crudeness aside, the show is surprisingly heartfelt with the beautifully sentimental "There's a Fine, Fine Line." Even some of the more upbeat tunes like "I Wish I Could Go Back to College" and "For Now" come off as bittersweet.

The show stars much of the same cast from last fall, including Bryan Tank (Princeton), Erin Churchill (Kate Monster), Joe Maubach (Nicky), Mike Kelly (Trekkie Monster), Tracy Pelzer-Timm (Mrs. T, Bad Idea Bear) and newcomer to the cast Nina Schreckengost (Lucy, Bad Idea Bear).Together they truly bring the characters to life as deeply flawed and disturbingly relatable as theyhandle and portray the puppets, crafted by Moline native Erika Friesth.

The same vibrancy is seen in the three nonpuppet characters: Brian (played by James Fairchild), his Japanese fiancee Christmas Eve (Cindy Ramos-Parmley) and Gary Coleman (the building superintendent and former "Different Strokes" star, played by newcomer Kiarra D. Andrews).

Given the adult situations and full puppet nudity, "Avenue Q" may not be suitable for the easily-offended, and you probably should not bring your kids. But for anyone who can look past the immaturity and the vulgarity, you will find a gleaming story of hope and finding your place in life. Or at least finding happiness where you are now.



If you go:

-- What: "Avenue Q."
-- When:  Thursday, Friday and Saturday (and March 28-30) at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. 
-- Where: The District Theatre, 1611 2nd Ave., Rock Island.
-- Tickets: $20, available by calling 309-235-1654













 



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  Today is Thursday, April 24, the 114th day of 2014. There are 251 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: We learn that it is a contemplation to start a paper mill in Rock Island during the summer by a gentleman from the East.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The gates of Oklahoma were swung open at noon today, and a throng of more than 30,000 settlers started over its soil.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The Iowa Coliseum Co. was incorporated with $40,000 capital and planned a building on 4th Street between Warren and Green streets in Davenport.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Plans are being discussed for resurfacing the streets in the entire downtown district of Rock Island.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Some 45 jobs will be created at J.I. Case Co.'s Rock Island plant in a expansion of operations announced yesterday afternoon at the firm's headquarters in Racine, Wis.
1989 -- 25 years ago: Gardeners and farmers cheered, but not all Quad-Citians found joy Saturday as more than an inch of rain fell on the area. Motorists faced dangerous, rain-slick roads as the water activated grease and grime that had built up during dry weather.








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