“Avenue Q” – Phoenix Theatre

This review aired on KBAQ June 13, 2016


Phoenix Theatre, Hormel Theatre
Phoenix, AZ

Phoenix Theatre revives for the third time its hysterical production of the wacky “Avenue Q.”  It is amusingly pointed as it takes funny slams at today’s societal variations.  Returning and new performers become a brightly-paced ensemble who deliver “Avenue Q” with jabbingly amusing fervor.  “Avenue Q’s ” live cast give the show’s wily puppets their sharp tongued voices.  The show even warns that it is for “mature audiences and contains full puppet nudity.”  The lippy and often vulgar dialogue has been crafted by canny book author Jeff Whitty but the show never offends or insults.  It just creates raucous laughter as it mocks routine things done every day.  Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx’s clever songs are loaded with the same biting candor.

Set in New York City on Avenue Q, there’s an odd assortment of puppets and people who live on the street.  Each resident represents an unique person.  Some are in relationships, while others struggle to find the perfect pairing but each character represents someone unique.  The street isn’t the ritziest place to live but the wide diversity of people and ethnicities push the  underlying feuds and rivalries’ that stimulate the residents wacky relationships.

Even though the show premiered in 2003, society hasn’t evolved so much that “Avenue Q” isn’t still amusing.  Some clever but subtle script changes even mention the foibles of our presumptive presidential candidates.

As marvelously clever and pointedly barbed as the show is, the production’s success is attributable to PT’s exemplary cast, the perfect set, and Robert Kolby Harper’s quick-paced staging that adds additional humor to the piece.  The original show puppets, designed artfully and maintained flawlessly by Rick Lyon, are used.  Everyone in the cast is perfection from Toby Yatso’s sharply inhibited Princeton and his more flagrant Rod.  Yolanda London sparkles as the wacky Gary Coleman while David Errigo, Jr. makes Trekkie Monster and Nicky wildly flamboyant.  Emily Mulligan Ferry turns Kate Monster and slutty Lucy into hysterical stereotypes while Erin Kei’s Christmas Eve and Pete Good’s Brian are a formidable couple.  Phoenix Theatre’s superbly humorous “Avenue Q” earns five stars out of five and continues to July 10.  For tickets, call the Phoenix Theater box office at 602-254-2151 or order tickets online at www.phoenixtheatre.com.

Grade: A

A note.  Phoenix Theatre is now a hopping place with its bar, food service, comfortably spacious lobby, and three perfectly sized theater venues.  Phoenix Theatre is one of the area’s most pleasant spaces to enjoy live shows.