The Appalachian State University Department of Theatre and Dance in the College of Fine and Applied Arts will present the regional premiere of “Avenue Q” April 27–May 1 on campus. Based on an original concept by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, the show has the rare distinction of winning Tony awards for Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book. The music and lyrics for “Avenue Q” were written by Jeff Marx and Robert Lopez with book by Jeff Whitty. The show is produced by special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI).
Five performances of the musical will be given in the Valborg Theatre on campus, with 7:30 p.m. shows Wednesday through Saturday, April 27-30, and a 2 p.m. show on Sunday, May 1. Ticket prices start at just $10 for Appalachian students and $17 for adults. For more information, visit www.theatreanddance.appstate.edu, call the box office at 828-262-4046 or 800-841-ARTS (2787).
Originally conceived as a television series, “Avenue Q” is like “Sesame Street” for adults. It is a hilarious, irreverent, sweetly satiric coming-of-age parable performed by Muppet-style puppets alongside human actors. When Princeton, a fresh-faced, young college graduate, embarks upon his first New York adventure, he soon learns that he is no more special than anyone else. Princeton meets a colorful array of puppet characters (including friendly monsters and a trashy night club singer) who help define his purpose in life.
While this high-energy musical is filled with laugh-out-loud songs, puns and jokes, this is definitely not a musical for children. The production is rated “R” for adult themes and language with a disclaimer that reads as follows: This musical contains puppet nudity, drunken teddy bears, foul language, immature humor and graphic felt-on-felt action.”
The production is directed by Theatre Professor Gordon Hensley, with musical direction by Dr. Joby Bell from the Hayes School of Music and choreography by Dance Studies Associate Professor Susan Lutz. The scenic design is by HannaH Crowell, an exhibition designer at the Mint Museum in Charlotte. Costume design is by Professor Martha Marking with lighting design by Associate Professor John Marty, both faculty members in the Department of Theatre and Dance. The puppets for this production of “Avenue Q” were built by Joel Gennari and were based on the original Broadway character designs by Rick Lyon.
“At first glance, ‘Avenue Q’ makes a concerted effort to offend a spectrum of people and communities through the portrayal of harsh stereotypes. As a piece of theatre, this is simply a mirror mockery of our society,” said Hensley in his director’s note. “In my opinion, stereotypes do steer our assumptions and interactions with one another, oftentimes without us even knowing it. It’s important to revisit that idea from time to time and ‘Avenue Q’ provides that opportunity. The script also has meaningful messages such as ‘when you help others you’re only helping yourself,’ and ‘everything is only for now.’ You’ll hear some deep truths intermixed with shallow humor in the show.”
The cast for “Avenue Q” includes Aaron Collins, Jordan Correll, Roy Dale Cox, Christina Donovan, Ryan Haynes, Sydney Hobart, Elizabeth Mason Moore, Grayson Rieth, Emily Robinson, Jaraad Samad, Mackenzie Smith and Cody Watkins. David Sabbagh is stage manager for the production.
About Valborg Theatre
The Valborg Theatre is located on campus at the north side of Chapell Wilson Hall on Howard Street in Boone. The theatre entrance faces the back of the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts on King Street. Parking is available after 5 p.m. on campus in faculty/staff lots and after 5:30 p.m. in the College Street parking deck near Belk Library and Information Commons. These lots are also available to the general public on the weekends.
About the Department of Theatre and Dance
The Department of Theatre and Dance is housed in the College of Fine and Applied Arts. Its mission is to provide liberal arts educational opportunities including B.A. degrees in dance studies and theatre arts. The department also values the opportunity to offer coursework for integrated learning through the arts to the general university student population. Vital to the support of this mission is a dynamic co-curricular production program that provides exemplary theatre and dance experiences to departmental students, the university community and the region. The departmental philosophy is to support the university’s liberal arts environment through a balanced and integrated emphasis on teaching, creative activity, scholarship and service.