By Pat Launer“Avenue Q,” the R-rated adult musical comedy at the the OB Playhouse, boasts of “full puppet nudity” but actually has a number of messages, particularly for millennials.
For example, even though you may grow up to realize that you’re not as “special” as you’ve been told all your life, and anything you’re worried or fretting about is just “For Now,” everyone’s life “sucks” now and again.Also: The “Schadenfreude” you feel in relation to someone else’s suckiness makes you feel better about your own, and “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist” and it’s OK to be gay, because “You Were Born That Way” and never forget that there’s “A Fine, Fine Line” between reality and pretend.
Those messages come through musically and amusingly, in the sellout production – just extended a second time – at the new OB Playhouse and Theatre Company.
The outrageous, often uproarious, multi-Tony Award-winning 2004 show, with music and lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, and book by Jeff Whitty, is directed and choreographed by Jennie Gray Connard.
This is basically a remount of the excellent staging she helmed at the Coronado Playhouse last year.
Half the 12 cast members return to the roles they created so endearingly and convincingly in Coronado, including the vocally powerful and wonderfully expressive Catie Marron as lovelorn Kate Monster, and the very funny Tiffany Loui as Christmas Eve, the double-degreed English-mangling Japanese therapist with no clients.
New additions include lithe/funny/sexy Shirley Johnston as Lucy the Slut. (There may be some shuffling of performers with the latest three-week extension).
The marvelous puppets were created for the Coronado production by longtime puppeteer Joe Fitzpatrick, who also contributed to the props and costumes (puppet and human).
The cast manipulates the Muppet-like puppets with finesse (the original New York cast comprised former Muppeteers; “Avenue Q” is clearly the X-rated version of that other, more straitlaced TV street).
On that note, if raunchy words and subjects offend you, stay away. There’s lots of language, as they say, and the perspective is not always wholesome (the raspy-voice salacious Trekkie Monster (returnee Kit Fugard), instead of being besotted by cookies, is obsessed with his online activities (“The Internet is for Porn”).
The energy is high, and a crack four-piece band accompanies the clever, comical songs about finding your place in life (i.e., figuring out “What Do You Do with a B.A. in English?”) and your “Purpose.”The show has once again proven extremely popular. This was the youngest theater audience I’ve seen in a long time, and that’s enormously encouraging.
The 60-seat playhouse, which premiered in July (the facility had been host to a variety of productions before), is now owned and run by Jennie Connard (artistic director) and her husband, Bill Connard (executive director). Their son, Jack Connard, served as sound designer/operator for this production.
Next up for the new company is a youth production of the holiday musical “Elf,” directed by Shirley Johnston. Coming in the spring are the very funny “Urinetown” and the rock musical, “The Who’s Tommy.”
There’s an ongoing Saturday show for young folks and families called “Kids Musicals LIVE!” a musical revue that runs through Oct. 8.
A new company is always a welcome addition to the thriving theater community, and musicals are popular any time of year. So check out this delightful show and promising company.
“AVENUE Q” has just been extended through Oct. 9, at the OB Playhouse, 4944 Newport Ave. in Ocean Beach. Performances are 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets ($25-$35) are available at 619-795-9305 or online at obplayhouse.com Running time: 2 hrs.
>> Subscribe to Times of San Diego’s free daily email newsletter! Click hereFollow Us: