By Wayne Harada
“Avenue Q,” the Tony Award-winning adult musical comedy with good-natured but sometimes naughty puppets, makes its Hawaii debut at 7:30 p.m. March 3 at Manoa Valley Theatre.
Caution: This is not a Muppets show for kids, though the curious and “mature” youngsters — perhaps as young as 12, but MVT suggests 14 or older — could attend with parental guidance. There are grown-up themes and some raunchy dialogue; this is, after all, a reflection of real life.
I saw the original on Broadway; the show was remounted and still is running off-Broadway, so it’s a very current attraction.
We offer these “Q” tips to help you navigate this “Avenue” stroll:
What’s it about: A slice of life, centering on Princeton, a college grad who returns to his New York city digs, with a mix of 20-something characters/neighbors with big dreams and lean pocketbooks — like unemployed comic, his therapist fiancée, a building superintendent named Gary Coleman (yes, THAT Coleman, now deceased) and others... all struggling and coping with mundane life challenges, like jobs, sex, Internet porn, drinking, relationships, commitments.
Why it’s appealing: The show engages “Sesame Street”-like puppets, with some actors manipulating cartoonish puppets affixed to their arms.
Why caution is required: The script is peppered with frank language, including expletives undeleted; the puppets often depict suggestive moves, so parental guidance is recommended — consider the maturity of the children. This much is certain: This is not a show for the kindergarten or the grade-school crowd, but teens will giggle approval.
Echoes you’ll recognize: The sidewalk is peopled by folks reflecting the sass and sizzle of Miss Piggy, the camaraderie of Ernie and Bert, the neighborliness of Mr. Rogers, the wisdom of the Cookie Monster and Big Bird. And there’s a musical diva, too. The familiarity is coincidental — not intentional — but you be the judge.
Sample songs: Titles include “It Sucks to be Me,” “The Internet Is for Porn,” “Everyone’s a Little Racist,” “If You Were Gay,” “I’m Not Wearing Underwear Today.”
History: The show originally opened off-Broadway, in March 2003; transferred to Broadway in July 2003, where it ran for six years, closing in September 2009; reopened off-Broadway in October, 2009, where it marked its first anniversary last year.
Hawaii ties: Kevin McCollum, one of the show’s award-winning producer, is a 1980 Punahou graduate; Ann Harada, who created the original Christmas Eve character, also is a Punahou grad (’81).
Join the crowd: These folks have seen “Avenue Q:” Barbara Walters, Ben Stiller, Bette Midler, Billy Crystal, President Bill Clinton plus Hillary and Chelsea, Carol Burnett, Diane Sawyer, Glenn Close, George Lucas, Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Janet Jackson, Katie Couric, Nathan Lane, Nicole Kidman, Patti LuPone, Rosie O'Donnell, Stephen Sondheim and Tom Hanks.
Opens at 7:30 p.m. March 3; repeats 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 3 and 8 p.m. Saturdays and 4 p.m. Sundays, through March 20
Manoa Valley Theatre
$35 general, $30 seniors and military; $25 youths under 25
Elitei Tatafu Jr. as Princeton
Jody Bill as Kate
Eric Manke as Nicky
Chris Villasenor as Rod
Jaq Ryan Galliano as Trekkie
Jen Dickinson as Lucy
Miguel Pa‘ekukui as Girl Bad Idea Bear
Braddoc DeCaires as Boy Bad Idea Bear
Brian Gilhooly as Brian
Pomai Lopez as Christmas Eve
Alison Maldonado as Gary Coleman
Garrett Taketa as Puppeteer
Bree Bumatai is guest director
Megan Mount is guest musical director
Cindy Hartigan is choreographer/puppeteer
Have you previously seen "Avenue Q"?
Share your opinions/reviews ...