Review of Avenue Q at the Brookside Theatre

Category: Theatre reviews 1

Do you remember the time that puppets were just for children? Puppetry has been around since ancient Greece and although once thought of a general entertainment, in the early 80s the assumption was that this sort of thing was only for little children.

Then along came the Muppets and everything changed, while previously parents would only watch puppets over the shoulder of their children, they started to get excited as the Manamana song came on the TV and sang along.

Avenue Q is a big game changer when it comes to puppetry, with mild profanity and puppet sex, it’s a puppet show specifically for the over 18s. The show relies on ‘suspension of disbelief’, with the puppet masters appearing unconcealed on stage beside the puppets, but the puppeteers remain “invisible” relative to the storyline, the facial expressions of these actors often reflects the emotions being felt at that time by the puppet character giving the audience further indication of the emotions being portrayed in the scene.

This modern day coming-of-age parable was performed at Brookside Theatre, Romford and was originally conceived by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx. The show addresses the fact that programs such as Sesame Street told children that they were special and could do anything but often real life does not live up to this premise. Princeton (voiced by Lewis Asquith) comes to Avenue Q, looking for a home and his purpose where he meets Kate Minster (voiced by Emma Rae Wilson), who is cute but finds it impossible to find a boyfriend. They live opposite Christmas Eve (Sarah Comerford), a therapist who doesn’t have any clients, failed stand-up comedian Brian (Lee Pierson) and Trekkie Monster (voiced by Jai Swepple) who is a cookie monster type creature, except addicted to x-rated material rather than cookies. Also in the street are Bert and Ernie inspired characters Rob and Nicky (voiced by Lewis Asquith and Jai Sepple) and landlord Gary Coleman (Ngozi Ugoh)

The show’s cast were excellent, with amazing acting and singing abilities from all of the actors and despite technical difficulties, involving Rod’s head falling off, the jokes just kept on coming and the audience laughed continually throughout. As well as at the Broadway Theatre, I’ve seen AvenueQ performed on Broadway and this performance, meets the same standards despite being a community theatre run by volunteers. The songs are very catchy and I’m still singing them the next day.

Well done to all of the cast at Brookside Theatre and I’m looking forward to seeing more from them, especially the popular musical Hairspray (1st – 5th July)

Princeton / Rod – Lewis Asquith
Kate Monster – Emma Rae Wilson
Nicky / Trekkie / Bad Idea Bear – Harri Sepple
Gary Colemon – Ngozi Ugoh
Christmas Eve – Sarah Comerford
Brian – Lee Pierson

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