Last night saw the media opening of the South African production of Avenue Q at the Pieter Toerin Theatre at Montecasino.
A few months ago, I had never heard of Avenue Q and on one of my many trips to the the Pieter Toerin Theatre I saw posters up advertising this award winning show. Later I learnt that it involved puppets and a few weeks ago I learned that it was funny, a musical with puppets and involved puppet nudity. I had no idea what to expect and I was blown away.
The humour is clever, and naughty. As advertised, it certainly isn’t suited to anyone under 16, and in parts had many in the adult audience blushing. The songs are catchy, and even 12 hours later I find myself humming ‘Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist’.
The story revolves around Princeton, an unemployed graduate who finds himself an apartment in Avenue Q surrounded by others (people and monsters) who also think their lives suck. Aside from the humour and the puppet nudity, the show also delivers some life lessons in a way that is almost the opposite of preachy.
The South African team have done themselves proud, the cast comprising actors and puppeteers delivered a brilliant performance, and clearly had as much fun doing so as the audience enjoyed watching. At first I thought the puppeteers completely visible walking on stage with their puppets would distract, I was wrong. They also don’t melt into the background, and one of they joys for me was watching the puppeteers acting out their puppets emotions with their own facial expressions.
The cast all delivered incredible vocal performances, with a performance that was as exaggerated and larger than life as in many children’s theatre and pantomime performances, and just as much fun, only with adult humour. It feels wrong to highlight specific performances as everyone in the cast was on top form, but Nieke Lombard’s facial expressions giving life to the puppet, was a joy to watch when she joined forces with Daniel Geddes in puppeteering ‘Nicky’, Daniel leading and providing voice. Rebecca Hartle’s portrayal of Christmas Eve added so much humour to the show. There was not a single person on stage that was not an absolute pleasure to watch.
I must give credit to Kosie Smit & Timothy le Roux for an aspect of the show that only those seated closest to the stage may have noticed. The set and the props are so full of detail, Christmas Eve’s magazine collection containing such titles as “Asian Blide”, and Gary Coleman having a magazine with a piece on child stars and where they are now, added another layer to the levels of humour in this show.
I urge everyone who needs a good laugh or just a break from life, go and see this show. I didn’t see a single person leave the theatre without a glow and a broad smile on their face. And if you do go to see the show, please take a bit of cash with you. As part of the story-line a fundraiser is held and a hat is passed around. Any cash donated in the hat will be given to the Theatre Benevolent Fund.
I want to see it again!
Etienne Shardlow has no theatre training or background, he’s an IT Governance & Service Management consultant by day, with a passion for the arts in general, theatre and jazz specifically.