An adult show with naughty puppets that pack a comedic punch but still manage to have a heart, Avenue Q is arguably one of the only musicals that transcends the divide between theatre dorks and normal people. Creators Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx have that special knack for creating relatable characters even while pushing the envelope of tact. The people and puppets who live on Avenue Q sing and dance their way through topics such as racism, homosexuality and porn with bro-like wit and school-girl charm.
Given such a successful blueprint, it is almost a challenge to fail with such a well-written piece. That said, Slow Burn Theatre Company’s leader, Patrick Fitzwater, finds ingenuity in his storytelling and finesses the potentially awkward actor/puppet relationship. After introductions, the whole cast laments in “It Sucks to Be Me;” a full production number with cute movement that helps the actor/puppets become a single entity as a character without seeming too cumbersome.
Mike Westrich and Nicole Piro do an exceptional job of differentiating both of their leading characters with shifts in physicality and voice. Not to be outdone, the actual human on stage are just as large in personality, with a standout performance by Ann Marie Olson who steals the show as Asian therapist, Christmas Eve. Her “The More You Ruv Someone” is both honest and hilarious and showcases her powerhouse vocals.
Disregarding some minor technical flaws in both sound and lighting, this Avenue Q delivers exactly what fans of the show expect: a raunchy, shocking humor neatly gift-wrapped and presented under the guise of seemingly cute puppets with dirty minds and no filter. As a fairly young company making a point to bring less traditional musical theatre to South Florida audiences, Slow Burn’s future in the area seems decidedly bright.
Nicole Piro as Kate Monster, Mike Westrich as Princeton. Photo Credit: Gemma Bramham
Courtney Poston, Mike Westrich as Princeton and Nicole Piro. Photo Credit: Gemma Bramham