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Review: Avenue Q’s irreverent puppets also hit poignant tone in hilarious opening night at Queen’s Theatre

09:26 02 February 2016

The cast of hit musical Avenue Q, which is coming to Queen

The cast of hit musical Avenue Q, which is coming to Queen's Theatre, Billet Lane, Hornchurch, next month. Picture: Avenue Q

Archant

Growing up, sexuality and the true purpose of the internet are just some of the issues the puppet cast of Avenue Q will be taking on when they bring the show to the Queen’s Theatre this week.

If you were lucky enough to get tickets to the sold-out opening night of this six-night run, you were treated to two and a half hours of big laughs and catchy tunes.

The award-winning show’s irreverent humour is infectious, and before the curtain falls on the first act we’re taught that it’s okay to be gay, everyone is a little bit racist, and you should be as loud as you want in the bedroom.

Despite the cute look of the puppets, reminiscent of Sesame Street and The Muppets, this is definitely not a show for children.

For all its tongue-in-cheek punch lines or remarkably vivid puppet sex scenes, the show is also more than capable of hitting a more poignant tone when it needs to.

Protagonist Princeton’s desperate attempts to find his purpose in life, Kate Monster’s fight to overcome social injustice and closeted banker Rod’s struggles with his sexuality all make sure that this is a show with a heart.

And while the musical’s second half may be a little lighter on belly laughs than the first, the catharsis of the conclusion, promising the audience that the hardships of growing up are only temporary, more than makes up for it.

All the actors involved deserved the standing ovation they received at the end of the night, but special mention must go to leading actors Richard Lowe and Sarah Harlington.

Both showed remarkable vocal range and impressive multi-tasking skills to simultaneously voice two puppets onstage, and it is testament to the entire cast’s smooth operating that the audience barely notice when puppets change hands mid-scene.

Some clever set design makes sure that even though you never leave the street you get a glimpse inside each character’s lives behind closed doors, and the cast never fail to miss a beat or mistime a wise-crack.

This three-time Tony Award winning show took Broadway by storm when it was first performed in 2003, and 13 years later it still hasn’t lost its charm, its laughs or its audience.

Avenue Q is playing at The Queen’s theatre until Saturday February 6 and tickets are available at www.queens-theatre.co.uk or on 01708 443333.

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