Monday, September 10, 2012

Avenue Q - Triangle Productions, Portland, Oregon

A Walk on the Wild Side

Avenue Q is playing at Triangle Productions! Thursday - Satursdays at 7:30pm and Sunday matinees at 2pm, through September 30th, 1785 NE Sandy Blvd., Portland, OR.

One can certainly say one thing about Avenue Q, it’s an “Equal Opportunity Offender.”  But to give it some status, it should be remembered that his little, Off-Broadway production took the Tony away from the flashy, big-budgeted Wicked for Best Musical (and score & book).  In my opinion, it was well deserved.
           
A thumb-nail description would be a walk on the dark side of Sesame Street, as if written by the creators of TV’s South Park.  In fact, one of the writers is connected with The Book Of Mormon, a sell-out musical, currently on Broadway, another “offensive” story.  I had the pleasure of seeing the Off-Broadway production of Q and, to be honest, this compares favorably to it.
           
It is “a typical day in the neighborhood” with the folks of a run-down apartment complex in NYC.  A newly arrived, recent college grad, Princeton (Bryan Kinder) moves into this area, eager to make his mark on the world.  While here, he meets the girl-next- door, Kate Monster (Meghan McCandless—super in ART’s Next to Normal, earlier this year), a substitute teacher, also with dreams. 

Into this mix are added Rod and Nicky, roommates with a secret (Norman Wilson and James Sharinghousen); Brian (Jonathan Quesenberry) a wanna-be stand-up comic and his main squeeze, Christmas Eve (Sarah Kim); Lucy (Chrissy Kelly-Pettit), a torch singer of questionable morals; and Gary Coleman—yes, that Gary Coleman, from past TV fame--(Tyler Andrew Jones) as the Super for the building.

It should be strongly noted that this show is not for those easily offended, or those faint of heart or weak of mind.  It addresses harsh language, Gay issues, Internet porn, sex, prejudice, politics, religion, ethnicity, relationships and even has a graphic scene of puppet promiscuity. 

Why the in-your-face approach?  Perhaps, because, as the story goes, a traveler, was trying to get his stubborn mule up a hill with kind words (which wasn’t working), finally resorting to hitting the animal over the head with a two-by-four, in which the mule finally went forward.  His explanation for such an action?  You have to get their attention first.  ‘Nuf said.

The songs are terrific and really move the story forward.  My favorites:  If You Were Gay, Purpose, Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist, The Internet Is For Porn, Special, There’s a Fine, Fine Line, The More You Ruv Someone and I Wish I Could go Back To College.  With those titles, it will also give you an idea as to whether it’s your cup of tea or not.

And the cast is uniformly excellent, with not a weak link in the ensemble.  My favorites in the singing department were Chrissy’s belting rendition of Special, Norman’s strong voice in My Girlfriend, Who Lives in Canada, Sarah’s heart-felt The More You Ruv Someone and my personal favorite (both song and cast member), who one can’t help but fall in love with, Meghan’s perfect voicing of There’s A Fine, Fine Line.  Only question remains, does one’s affection go toward the performer, or their alter-ego, the puppet?

Not to be ignored are the very workable set from Actors Cabaret of Eugene; Darcy White and her marvelous band; Don Horn’s (Leader of the Triangle Pack) intricate direction and, especially, the puppet makers—Darrin J. Pufall, designer, with the collaboration of the unequaled, Tears Of Joy Theatre.  My hat’s off to these magnificent Magic Makers!

For information on this company and the show go to www.tripro.org or triangleproductions1@gmail.com or call 503-239-5919.