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Center Stage: An astounding “Avenue Q” at Montgomery College

ROCKVILLE — Absolutely astounding. Two words to describe Montgomery College Theatre’s production of “Avenue Q” last week.

It was intriguing to learn that “Avenue Q” was an homage to “Sesame Street,” and the opening seconds of the show were mindblowing.

Most of the characters were puppets which were voiced by the actors controlling them, which requires a certain suspension of disbelief. In Montgomery College’s production, this was not at all hard to do.

The puppeteers did a fantastic job of timing their talking to the mouth movements of their puppets. The productions’ standout interpretation of the characters’ voices and design turned the puppets into characters of their own.

The voices in particular fit the characters naturally. Princeton, the new puppet on Avenue Q, was voiced by Da’von Moody with a new-kid-on-the-block type of tone to his voice.

The clear-voiced Samantha Shoop voiced his love interest, Kate Monster. One of the opening numbers, “It Sucks to be Me,” was a hilarious yet accurate depiction of what it is like to be a college graduate in the real world.

The real world, meanwhile, is set in a “Sesame Street”-style environment where puppets, monsters, and humans live together. The difficulties of becoming an adult become easier to appreciate when the characters’ frustrations are shown through the humorous puppet-characters.

Despite its innocent façade, “Avenue Q” is an adult play. A lot of its humor came from the combining the memory of the kid-friendly show that inspired it with adult situations like losing a job or having a one-night stand.

But because of the strong character development and the lasting impression that each character had, these situations were funny as well as relatable.

Take for instance the relationship between Nicky and Rod, two roommates who were inspired by the “Sesame Street” duo Bert and Ernie.

Rod is a closeted gay man voiced by Geraden Ward, who lives with his goofy but easy-going roommate, Nicky, who is voiced by David Singleton. The number “If You Were Gay,” sung by Nicky amid Rod’s annoyed yells, was possibly the funniest number in the entire play because it shows the personality clash between the two.

Singleton voiced Nicky in a goofy voice that strongly fit the character. Rod’s uptight voice, which Ward provided, sounds believably annoyed and mirrors the Bert and Ernie relationship perfectly.

Rod’s secret love for his roommate, Nicky, provided some more great humor in the play, which reached greater heights when Nicky and the rest of the cast were shown to be well aware that Rod was in the closet.

“Avenue Q” is also a very lighting- and effect-driven play that mimics the on-screen effects of “Sesame Street” in its lessons. Lynn Joslin’s lighting was very reminiscent of the show and captures the spirit of the original “Avenue Q” production.

Side characters like Trekkie Monster, whom Cole Larravide voiced, were also incredibly talented. Larravide sounded exactly like Cookie Monster in his voice of the orange monster, whose obsession is porn rather than cookies.

In fact, a whole number is dedicated to the subject in “The Internet is for Porn.” These are the humorous subjects that “Avenue Q” was willing and ready to explore.

At the same time, the play hit home on a lot of different angles. The number, “I Wish I Could Go Back to College,” was poignant for college graduates, who inevitably become nostalgic for their college days when they hit with the difficulties of life.

The show wraps up a recurring theme for Princeton’s desire to find his purpose amid his relationship with Kate Monster and his lack of satisfaction in life. It concluded with a number about how he is not special for wanting something more in life, indicating that his dreams can wait “For Now.”

@ReeceKL

 

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