Guess Q’s back, and attended the Gala night for Avenue Q at New Wimbledon Theatre? Yup, Me! Now, this was a first time watch of the show, and since it’s been over a decade since the show was introduced to the West End, obviously I had heard many of the songs, but nothing would quite get me prepared for what I was about to experience. Puppets swearing and having one night stands (on stage) are just a couple of scenes my jaw dropped to.
Those who grew up with Sesame Street will notice some significant similarities between some of the eclectic characters, such as Trekkie Monster, Lucy the Slut and Christmas Eve. This UK Tour production by Selladoor boasts a very strong cast, along with puppets design by Paul Jomain (Jim Henson Company, the creator of The Muppets). The leads of the show have some difficult work by doubling up puppet characters. Lawrence Smith who plays Princeton and also Rod is strong in his deliverance of two very difference characters. I noticed also he doesn’t have a moment off stage for the majority of Act 1. Cecily Redman also doubles up with Kate Monster and Lucy The Slut. Redman is a very confident and strong actress, nailing every joke and note, including her beautiful rendition of ‘There’s a fine, fine line’. Redman’s character’s even have a conversation together in Act 2, but i’ll leave the technical side of that for when you watch it.
The cast are clearly very energetic, and know the show inside out. Trekkie Monster, is voiced by Tom Steedon, and co-pupeteerd by Megan Armstrong who truly work in perfect unison together – both are hilarious. Steedon had previously toured with this production in 2014, however he then played the roles of Princeton/Rod. Steedon doubles up as some other roles too such as the Bad Idea Bears, putting his vocals to the test and creating some really wondering character voices. However, it was a shame that some of the dialogue was too quiet to hear. I’m unsure if this was down to being vocally tired, or the microphone audio.
Saori Oda as Christmas Eve is wonderful, with her physical performance and comedic timing, along with other hilarious cast members Nicholas Mclean and Oliver Stanley.
The show is really fun, high energy, and you will find yourself laughing a lot. I do feel though, that although Selladoor have clearly put a lot of thought into this production, and the casting is top notch, that it’s starting to feel a little dated. I feel parts of the show are a little too close to the bone, particularly when the Bad Idea Bears are telling one of the characters to hang himself. With so much in the media about trolling and bullying, I felt this was unnecessary. That aside, it’s lovely that those who will have seen Sesame Street as a child will now be able to revisit those characters types, but in a more adult themed way – particularly when they are bad mouthing Donald Trump.
Reviewed by Benjamin Martin
Photo: Matt Martin