“Avenue Q”: the Grown-Up ‘Sesame Street’

Brittany Raysby

Broadway’s Tony award-winning musical, “Avenue Q”, came to ECC this February with an unapologetic, but witty look at life after college. But with “Sesame Street”-like puppets. 

With musical numbers like “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist”, “ The Internet is for Porn”, and “What Do You Do with a B.A. in English?”,  “Avenue Q” isn’t trying to play it safe. Don’t let it mislead you though, this production has a lot of heart and a strong message of self-acceptance and the importance of community.  

The play follows a young college graduate, Princeton, who struggles to find housing and a job after college. He deals with real-life issues like paying rent and student loans, while also feeling emotional ups and downs of relationship. Throughout the play, he looks for his “purpose” in life, all while singing about noisy sex and casual racism.

“The actual show itself is fun. I think people are used to musical theatre being a little cheesy and a little tongue-in-cheek. This is a pretty bad-ass piece of theatre. It’s honest, it’s raw, but in lieu of being really ‘in your face’ and controversial, it has heart,” Andy Bero, director of ECC’s Avenue Q production, said.

“At some point when you strip away the funny, controversial, and ‘on the edge’ stuff, you have a really sweet story about friendship and community and finding who you are and where we fit into this world. Its a beautiful show.”

The set of “Avenue Q” pulls the play together with the energy of the cast using every inch of the stage, making it a lively and dynamic production to watch.  The vitality of the actors and actresses also capitalize on the personal feel to the set.

“We’ve transformed the Second Space theatre into the actual ‘Avenue Q’, its been very difficult with sight lines and making sure the audience feels connected with the actors, but also making sure that there’s a lot of movement and manipulation of the space.” said Bero.

While the show can come off as controversial or even crude at times, it has a deeper message for the audience to connect with. Togetherness and the idea of companionship is a strong theme throughout the play.

“Don’t allow yourself to be offended, the play is pushing you there to open you up to a larger theme that we want you to take away. And that theme is only through each other will we get through life. We need community, its important,” said Bero. “It’s been a phenomenal experience. I work a lot with high school age and children’s theatre, and it been a really wonderful departure working with young adults and pre-professional actors. They know what they’re doing. More importantly, the collaboration with the production staff has been incredible, when you work with people you trust, its such an amazing,  wonderful collaborative process, because together you can achieve so much more.”