Avenue Q the Musical Music & Lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx. Supa Productions directed by Garrick Smith. Music directed by Rose Shorney, choreography by Jordan Kelly, costumes designed by Suzan Cooper. ANU Arts Centre September 16 – October 1, 2011
Reviewed by Frank McKone
Isn’t it great? Isn’t it fun? Isn’t it just a relief to see a light-hearted satirical American musical! I nearly missed it, and I’m glad I didn’t. It’s a show I thought I’d heard of, but it had never entered my consciousness – perhaps because of my lack of enthusiasm for conventional American musicals. I guess the song Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist puts me in my place.
Several things about Supa’s production impressed me.
The puppets worked as characters in their own right, but this could only be achieved by the singers who also had to be dancers and puppeteers. Getting this right was a major plus, because the puppets’ characters became the focus instead of the show being just a display of singing and dancing.
The Velvet Underground Glove Puppet Modern Jazz Sextet played magnificently, although sometimes they could have been softened a little to bring out the voices more clearly.
The set designer Jeremy Bailey-Smith doesn’t get special mention in the program, but he should for a clever arrangement of movable units which kept our interest at each set change, all smoothly done.
Characters, within the limits deliberately set as spoofs of Sesame Street and of traditional musical romances, are not all this show requires. Fortunately Supa maintained its usual precision in movement and singing. Timing makes this show, not just as a comedy but as a satire, and I think no-one missed a beat. But I must add that Sarah Golding’s It’s A Fine, Fine Line brought the first half to a beautiful end, at a level beyond satire.
The result was enthusiastically received by the very age group it was aimed at in just the right venue at ANU. I even overhead people saying I Wish I Could Go Back To College as they faced the reality of the cold night air. In fact even this 70-year-old found himself wondering wouldn’t it be great, wouldn’t it be fun?