Broadway musical teaches tough lessons through furry friends
At first glance, the stage show of the Broadway musical “Avenue Q” looks very tame. The Sesame Street atmosphere, complete with puppets and their handlers, immediately puts the audience at ease.
Then one of those puppets opens its mouth.
“Avenue Q,” arguably one of Broadway’s most unique shows, comes to the Carson Center on April 14 for one night only. The play, set in an “outer, outer borough of New York City,” follows a set of friends living in an apartment complex and their struggle to figure out who they are.
“The show is one of a kind,” said Michael Liscio, who plays the characters of Nicky and the Bad Idea Bears in the show. “It’s absolutely brilliant.”
Although “Avenue Q” comes off as being an innocent puppet show, Liscio doesn’t recommend bringing children. The musical forces its audience to face hard questions about topics like racism and sexuality. But it also carries the central message that everyone has a purpose in life.
“People who haven’t had the pleasure of seeing the show on Broadway have such an organic response,” Liscio said. “They really don’t know how to react at first. That’s what I love about it.”
“Avenue Q” has been described as an adult version of “Sesame Street.” People’s familiarity with the public broadcasting favorite contributes greatly to the show’s success. The show’s co-creator, Jeff Marx, interned at “Sesame Street” early in his career, and most of “Avenue Q’s” original cast were trained puppeteers who worked on “Sesame Street” at one time or another. It was only recently that “Avenue Q” allowed actors to audition for roles.
“I am an actor, not a puppeteer,” Liscio explained. “When the show started, all of the people in it had ‘Sesame Street’ training and were pros at this, so I thought I would never be able to be in a show of this caliber. Now, I have learned a new trade.”
“Avenue Q” won the 2004 Tony Award for Best Musical, along with Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score. It was also nominated for a Grammy award for Best Broadway Soundtrack.
“I have done this show for over a year, maybe close to 200 times,” Liscio said. “And I always have fun. Somehow, it always amazes me.”
Contact Corianne Egan, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8652.
Want to go
What: Avenue Q
Where: The Carson Center
When: Thursday April 14, 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: Starting at $30
For more information, or to purchase tickets, go to thecarsoncenter.org or call the box office at 270-450-4444