“There is life outside your apartment”: Avenue Q opens tonight at the Players Guild

By Stephen Ostertag

Remember those “sunny days, chasing the clouds away”? Don’t worry if that memory is a little faded; for most of us, the days spent with educational puppets are well behind us replaced by the thrills of adulthood. What those childhood puppets never taught us, was how to be a grown up or how challenging a task that would be. Enter the Players Guild Theatre’s production of Avenue Q opening February 26th, with Tony Award winning music and lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, Avenue Q teaches grown-up humans and monsters how to navigate adult relationships, figure out what to do with their lives, and deal with the harsh realities of not being a kid anymore.

The characters living on Avenue Q may seem a little familiar (though decidedly more mature). There are roommates Rod & Nicky, who’ll answer the age old relationship question of their innocent PBS counterparts. Rather than a cookie obsession, Trekkie Monster has a more risqué adult addiction to croon about, and friendly handyman Gary Coleman is standing by to give you the straight facts about being an adult. The show hits on many adult themes through humor, “Puppets are a bit of a Trojan Horse. They’re our way in. Once you get the audience hooked, you can tell them all kinds of truths and they’ll go along with you.” — Avenue Q Co-Creator Robert Lopez on MSNBC May 12, 2014

Actor Craig Joseph has several responsibilities on Avenue Q, including playing a character’s right arm. Joseph says “playing Trekkie Monster’s right arm, in coordination with another actor who plays his head and his left arm,” is a challenge, and “any moment where we’re actually in sync and create something cool with him feels like a win, because it requires coordination.” Joseph adds, “the show is a lot of fun to perform, but there are easier things than trying to sing, dance, and operate a puppet at the same time.”

Sarah Marie Young plays Lucy the Slut, and says “this is my second time playing this part, and it’s fun because it’s not typically the kind of character I get to play,” and that audiences should be prepared for shenanigans. “Audiences can expect to laugh a lot,” Joseph says, “and then perhaps feel slightly embarrassed or ashamed of themselves for laughing – and then start laughing again.”

Avenue Q opens February 26th on the Players Guild Fry Theatre stage and will feature puppets on the arms of local community talent. You can get your tickets to Avenue Q playing through March 13th by calling the Box Office at 330-453-7617 or going online to playersguildtheatre.com, but don’t expect the Muppets, these are grown up puppets (for grown-ups!)

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Stephen Ostertag is the Resident Costume Designer for Kent State University at Stark and a blogger for ArtsinStark.