‘Avenue Q’ Comes to Academy Theatre

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Most people have some memory of puppets from their childhood. Whether that be from sock puppets or the Muppets themselves, many have some sort of association with them. But what about when you grow up?

“Avenue Q,” a Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, has brought the life of puppets into adulthood. Described as “Sesame Street” for adults, “Avenue Q” is a laugh-out-loud musical that tells the timeless story of a recent college grad named Princeton who moves into a shabby New York apartment all the way out on Avenue Q. There, he meets Kate (the girl next door), Rod (the Republican), Trekkie (the Internet sexpert), Lucy the Slut (need we say more?) and other colorful types who help Princeton finally discover his purpose in life.

This hilarious, fun musical – whose characters are mostly puppets – is being put on by the Academy Theatre in Meadville from Feb. 6-15.

Kevin Noonchester, the director for the production, was trained by the original Broadway creative team and worked with original Broadway cast members during his time with the show.  Noonchester was brought in from California to direct the show.  He teaches “Avenue Q” puppetry across the country with his business, Avenue Q Puppet Camp.

“‘Avenue Q’ is a show with a lot of heart,” Noonchester said.  “Think of it as, ‘children’s television for adults’ where the lessons aren’t ABCs & 123s, but rather witty, yet biting lessons about how to get along in the world.  If anything, it is a love letter to Sesame Street.”

Noonchester said he always looks forward to training new puppeteers.

“To see them grow from people who have never picked up a puppet before into performers making their own puppetry choices is a very rewarding experience,” he said.

For those who have already seen this show, whether on Broadway or in a local theater, as well as those who haven’t seen it, The Academy Theatre’s production is worth the experience.

Noonchester said “Avenue Q” is a different style of theater storytelling.  While the actors are the cast, the puppets are the characters.

He said the magic of “Avenue Q” rests on having an audience believe that the characters are alive and added that the goal is to “preserve the magic that made this show a success.”

“When you take your seat at the theater, you’ll see the noble tradition of puppetry being carried on through heartfelt performances as they bring the story of ‘Avenue Q’ to life,” Noonchester said.

“Avenue Q” may not be appropriate for young children because it addresses issues like sex, drinking and surfing the web for porn. Parents should use their discretion based on the maturity level of their children.

Shows run at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $16 for general admission and $14 for seniors and students. For more information, call 814-337-8000 or go to theacademytheatre.org.

 

CASSIE BIELECKI

[email protected]