by Jessica Ham
& Lorie Lewis Ham
Check out video interviews with some of the cast and director at the end of this review!
My daughter and I went to see Avenue Q this weekend and since she knows the show so well I thought it would be great to let her share her feelings before throwing in a few of my own. We’ve had the great pleasure of seeing three Tony Award winning shows in a row now—this one being the latest—and I have to say each made me even prouder of the incredibly talented theatre community here in this Valley!
Thoughts from a theatre geek, Jessica Ham:
Avenue Q is one of my favorite musicals. I have the entire soundtrack memorized and I dream of being in that show someday. This musical is hilarious, heartfelt, and sweet. If you want to laugh for minutes on end and cry over sweet moments, I suggest you see this show which is currently on stage in Visalia at the Main Street Theater.
This show is set in an outer borough in New York City in a modern day time period. It stars Princeton, a recent college graduate with a BA in English, who is striving to find his purpose. He stumbles upon the borough Avenue Q and rents an apartment there from Gary Coleman, the old child star from Different Strokes. He befriends Kate Monster (a monster who is a teacher’s aide), Nicky and Rod (best friends who are based on Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street), Brian and Christmas Eve (a newly engaged couple), and Trekkie Monster (a silly, perverted monster who lives in the building). The show goes through the struggles of growing up and finding your purpose in life.
Now, Avenue Q is not a normal show. Many of the characters in fact are puppets. Kate Monster, Princeton, Rod, Nicky, Trekkie Monster, and some of the secondary characters are all puppets. The puppets add another level of silliness to the show that no other musical has ever brought to the table. The actors dress in black and use the puppets.Avenue Q, done by The Fourth Wall Theatre Company in Visalia, was excellent. In my opinion, they were even better than the original Broadway cast. Chris Mangels beautifully directed a show that is very difficult to put together. The puppets part of it is a very difficult thing to pull off but they do it and do it extremely well. The cast was wonderful. Terry Lewis, who played Rod, has an incredible voice and made you fall in love with Rod. Peter Allwine, who played Nicky, made you laugh hysterically. Sarah Gallegos, who played Kate Monster, has a beautiful voice and made you want to hug Kate. Everyone did a brilliant job. I highly recommend you see this show. It will make you laugh, cry, and make you feel like you are in a Broadway theater.
Thoughts from a theatre lover, Lorie Ham:
I must admit I went to this show not really sure what I’d think–I went for my daughter, which is why it seemed appropriate to have her write this review. I knew my daughter loved it, but puppets as the stars of a musical and some of the song titles such as “The Internet Is For Porn” and “Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist”, made me wonder if this was something I would enjoy. Now that I’ve seen it, I must agree with her that this show is a wonderful evening of theatre, and the songs and puppets put in the context of the show all made sense. I also appreciated the fact that not only was it very funny, but it really did have a good and heartwarming message. And I can’t remember the last time I laughed that much!
Chris Mangels designed and made the puppets himself and that alone was an incredible feat, as was the cast’s ability to learn how to act with puppets. The cast was awesome and the quality of the show was on a professional level. On top of those Jessica already mentioned, I always enjoy the wonderfully talented Danielle Jorn who played Lucy the Slut, Adam Rodriguez as Princeton has an excellent voice—Princeton and Kate made an adorable couple—Ejay Malicsi was a riot as Christmas Eve, and well everyone did a great job.
Keep in mind though that just because it’s puppets does not mean it’s suitable for the family. Think of it more as a very “grown-up” Sesame Street. There is strong language, a puppet sex scene and well you get the idea. So if you’re in the mood to laugh like crazy and enjoy some top notch theatre do not miss Avenue Q which has one more weekend left and is on stage in Visalia at the Main Street Theater. Tickets may be purchased from Brown Paper Tickets or at the box office.
Interview With Director Chris Mangels:
Interview With Adam Rodriguez:
Interview With Sarah Gallegos:
Interview With Peter Allwine:
All of the photos in this article were provided by Corey Ralston of Corey Ralston Photography.