Rock on down to Avenue Q as quickly as you can, only six performances left at No Square Theatre

Story and photos by DIANNE RUSSELL

This is not Electric Avenue, Electric Company, or Sesame Street. And just because they look like Muppets, the Avenue Q creatures are not your average kid-rated puppets, not by a long shot. These lovable mouthpieces watch porn on the internet, couple on bar tables, and might be just a little racist. Adorable, but raunchy, like Amy Schumer. 

What comes out of their mouths is unexpected, poignant, and timely – and made for a rollicking good time for the opening night audience, who showed their appreciation with a standing ovation. 

Bree Burgess Rosen, founding artistic director of No Square, introduced the play, which is based on the original concept. Created by Book of Mormon’s Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, this infamously dirty puppet-musical won Best Musical, Best Book, and Best Original Score at the 2004 Tony Awards. Because of the audience’s close proximity to the cast, No Square Theatre is the perfect venue for this production. 

Rock on Kate

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Kate the Monster (Ella) 

After six years on Broadway, the show moved Off Broadway to New York’s New World Stages, where it has played since October 2009, spawning two national tours and a ton of international productions. 

How these No Square puppeteers sing, act, and manipulate the puppets – all at the same time – is an incredible feat. This endeavor is masterfully intertwined, often blurring the lines between the live and inanimate actors. It’s all so believable that it’s easy to forget where the human ends and the puppet begins. And it’s not often that puppets can elicit such a spectrum of emotions. 

Rock on Princeton

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Princeton (Eric)

During the performance, the audience gets to meet an array of characters like Princeton, a bright-eyed graduate who comes to New York City with big dreams and a tiny bank account. With a strong singing voice and stage presence, Eric Anderson brings Princeton to life as he tries to “find his purpose.” No Square attendees will remember Eric from My Ridiculous Valentine.

The puppets include Kate Monster, Princeton, Lucy the Slut, Nicky, Rod, Trekkie Monster, Mrs. Thistletwat, and the Bad Idea Bears.

Ella Wyatt as Kate Monster, a darling kindergarten teacher, possesses a beautiful vulnerability. Ella is also Lucy the Slut – the opposite of Kate in every way. Nicky (Jonathan Haidl) is a kind-hearted slacker, and he has a closeted gay roommate called Rod (Eric). 

Rock on Trekkie monster

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The internet porn watching Trekkie Monster (Jonathan Haidl) 

Mrs. Thistletwat is played by Sarah Loya who also is one of the Bad Idea Bears.

Filling out the puppet cast is an internet “sexpert” called Trekkie Monster and two Bad Idea Bears, who often present Princeton with some very bad ideas. Puppets shouldn’t drink!

McKay Mangum brings his puppeteer expertise to the show as Puppet Master. Rylee Bullington and Lila Goldstein serve multiple roles as puppeteers and dressers.

The human cast of characters also includes Brian, played by Richard Wayne Kilgo II, an out-of-work comedian who is engaged to a therapist called Christmas Eve, played by Gloria Henderson. Eileen Goodwin does a formidable job as Gary Coleman.

Rock on all group

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Talented cast: (L-R) Brian played by Richard Wayne Kilgo II, Gloria Henderson as Christmas Eve, Kate Monster, Ella Wyatt, Lucy the Slut, Princeton, Eric Anderson, Rod, Bad Idea Bears with Sarah Loya, Nicky, Jonathan Haidl, Trekkie Monster, Eileen Goodwin as Gary Coleman, and Lila Goldstein, puppeteer

A couple of the obvious audience pleasing songs are “If You were Gay,” “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist,” “The Internet is for Porn.” On the poignant side, Ella superbly sings “There’s a Fine, Fine Line.”

The band, comprised of Music Director/Pianist/Conductor Roxanna Ward, Carlos Rivera, Lou Savage on Bass, Mark Sproull on Guitar, David Page on Drums, and Chris Carbjal – Woodwinds, provided adept accompaniment.

Off stage, many others contributed to this wonderful evening of entertainment: Director Joe Lauderdale, Stage Manager/Scenic Artist Marley Oyen, Sound Artist Danny Rios, Set Designer Tim Mueller, and Lighting Designer Benedict Conran, with costumes by Brigitte Harper, Bree, and Company.

Rock on Lucy and Princeton

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Lucy the Slut and Princeton with Christmas Eve in the background

Don’t waste time, rush to Ave Q. It’s described as “The Tony-Award winning musical that’s part flesh, part felt & packed with heart.” The puppets – and their humans – will capture your heart in more ways than one. There’s still time to catch the show on Friday, May 17 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, May 18 at 7:30 p.m., Sunday, May 19 at 6:30 p.m., Friday, May 24 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, May 25 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, May 26 at 6:30 p.m.

For tickets, go to www.nosquare.org.

No Square Theatre is located at 384 Legion St.