Pictured: Kayli Jamison, as Kate Monster. Photo by Vivian Nazzaro.
Review: AVENUE Q at MTKC Pro
By Bec Pennington
Okay kids, let’s talk about today’s lesson: Reality!
Welcome to AVENUE Q, where you get to realize you’re not the “special person” the morning shows and your parents always promised. This satirical puppet show takes those childhood promises of life and deconstructs them one by one in a perfect blend of raunchy, irreverent, cynical, and sweet.
We follow Princeton (a puppet), fresh out of college with a degree in English and hoping to make his way in New York City. As he looks for a job and a home, he meets others in the neighborhood, develops relationships, and struggles to find a direction and calling, with hilarious results. An R-rated riff on Sesame Street and other children’s learning shows, it brilliantly shatters Princeton and his friends’ naivete, with such musical insights as “The Internet is for Porn” and the meaning of “Schadenfreude.”
This show features a blend of live action actors and puppets, whose puppeteers are also fully visible on stage. As the puppeteers are not disguised in any way, they have the unique task of shadowing and supporting their characters without upstaging them, and this requires some serious skill on the part of the actor as well as some acclimation on the part of the audience.
The Good: Callie Rodina and Dashawn Young’s Bad Idea Bears were wickedly funny, and Christmas Eve, the deliberately stereotyped Asian character portrayed by Ai Vy Bui, had the audience in stitches with “The More You Ruv Someone.” Kayli Jamison, as Kate Monster, was especially notable in fleshing out her character’s expression and made her incredibly likable. Ryan Hruza held his own as the adorable Princeton. The live music was also quite pleasant.
The Not So Good: It’s incredibly difficult to animate an object to a point that a viewer will pay more attention to the object than to the human being beside it. The difficulty of this manipulation did show up forgivably here and there, as the timing would sometimes be off, or a mouth wouldn’t open with a word. There were sound issues in the space as well, with mics coming in and out. Unfortunately, Drew Szczesny and Brea Clemons’ performances fell a bit flat, although their musicality was good. Overall, it felt slightly under-rehearsed.
All in all, this production was not perfect, but nevertheless was raucously entertaining. Even with its flaws, it’s an incredible amount of fun and I believe this was definitely worth getting out for.
MTKC Pro’s AVENUE Q runs through April 8th at the Union Station City Stage.