Review: Avenue Q, Buxton Opera House

www.qpuppets.co.ukWas it Déjà vu? Avenue Q was being performed brilliantly by a slick cast of talented actors and musicians on the stage in front of me.

Well no, as it happens it wasn’t, this was the real thing not a trick of the memory. It was the second time in the space of a few months that I had been treated to the Tony Award winning musical and this show at Buxton Opera House was every bit as good as the first.

I should say at this point that the earlier version I reviewed was by the newly formed amateur group Streetlight Theatre Arts in Derby and last night’s was a professional production from Sell a Door Theatre Company, directed by Cressida Carré.

I loved the musical so much the first time around I was worried that this time I might be disappointed, or even worse bored, but I needn’t have been because it was a full-on evening of entertainment from the second the first chord was played until the encores.

All the actors were superb, the singing was first class and the show’s hits such as If You Were Gay, Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist and It Sucks to Be Me filled your heart with joy.

The musical by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marz was a huge success on Broadway and the West End and the cast is made up of a Sesame Street style mixture of puppets and humans who live in a run down street on the outskirts of New York, Avenue Q.

The Muppet-like characters include a sex goddess called Lucy the Slut and a homely good girl Kate Monster both played by Lucie-Mae Sumner, a closeted gay banker called Rod and the hero Princeton, a graduate looking for a purpose in life both played by Tom Steedon and Trekkie Monster the internet porn sexpert, played by Stephen Arden.

Three actors are human only: Brian, a wannabe comedian played by Richard Morse, his Japanese wife played by Jacqueline Tate and former child star turned tenancy supervisor Gary Coleman played by Ellena Vincent.

The star of the show had to be Lucie-Mae Sumner who switched from luscious Lucy to cutesy Kate with amazing ease. One second she was vamping about the stage and the next lamenting over her lost love. The audience loved her.

There are few times I have been in a theatre and heard quite so much laughter and cheering and – probably because of the football – it wasn’t even a full house.

At the end of the show the crowd at the front of the stalls gave a standing ovation and it was then that I realised they were the cast from Streetlight Theatre Arts who couldn’t resist going along to see the musical for themselves.

As we spilled out of the opera house still humming the tunes they confessed to having spent the evening comparing just like I had, but they conceded that it was as fantastic a version as you would see anywhere in the world.

The rest of the cast were Jessica Parker, as Mrs T and Bad Idea Bear; Greg Airey, Will Hawksworth, Emily-Jane Morris and Wreh-Asha Walton in the ensemble. The band was Daniel Griffin, Rickey Long, Abi Lucas, Mike Dunne, Jonnie James and Nicky Caulfield.

It can be seen at Buxton Opera House tonight at 7.30pm and tomorrow Saturday at 2.30pm and 7.30pm. There are still tickets left but please note it is an adults only show.

And one final thing – good luck to the team from Streetlight Theatre Arts at the annual Eagle Awards in Derby. Avenue Q has to be a winner.

 

 

Advertisements