AVENUE Q

Ave Q 2

 

AVENUE Q

Hillcrest Center for the Arts

403 W. Hillcrest Dr, Thousand Oaks CA

August 17 – 20, 2016, 8pm  (This week only)

 

 

Think life is horrible and that it sucks to be you? Come take a walk down the geographically-undesirable Avenue Q, where a young man without a purpose can live in a building full of singing monsters and have Gary Coleman for a landlord.

 

Production company YA4Ever has drafted a group of their finest alumni for a pleasant outdoor production of the R-rated puppet-musical “Avenue Q.” On a small corner amphitheater at the Hillcrest Center for the Arts, and for one weekend only, the group will bring Sean Harrington’s puppets to life for the high-energy, hilariously un-PC musical.

 

Director Kevin Gilmond couldn’t have chosen a more perfect setting; the evening weather is slated to be lovely thru the weekend, and when a plane passes overhead or a siren goes by in the city below, well, it just lends a little free ambience to Avenue Q.

Ave Q 1

Those familiar with “Q” will see this particular production has two clear strengths: its core material, and the ensemble energy of its players. The material drips with topical sarcasm and was written for a group like YA4Ever; there are times when the audience might wonder if something is scripted and being pulled off really well, or was just invented by the player’s imagination. The ‘Bad Idea Bears,’ who shoot across the stage full of terrible advice, seem particularly infected with this kind of energy; players Chris Reilly and Aly Valles hold back nothing and hit their timing just right, setting the overall tone for the production.

 

Newly arrived in the city, Princeton (Kurt Kemper) gets laid off from his new job before he’s even worked his first day. Like Steve Martin’s Navin Johnson, this sets Princeton on a quest to find his purpose.

 

Here in his new home on Avenue Q, Princeton meets Kate Monster (Natalie Hightower), a part-time school teacher with a beautiful voice who is equally smitten. How does she know Princeton likes her? He makes her a mixed tape. She’s a good sport throughout, even when Princeton takes her to see a show featuring Lucy the Slut (Francesca Barletta). Disgusted, Kate has a moment similar to Elaine Robinson of The Graduate, turning shy and inward when thrust into a situation clearly beneath her.

 

Gilmond kept his orchestra a simple trio: drummer, guitarist and pianist are led by conductor Susan T. Calkins. Similar instructions went to costumer Beth Glasner, whose simple designs don’t draw from the action of the puppets.

 

“Avenue Q” is the Blazing Saddles of contemporary musicals; no sensitive subject or ethnicity is going to get away unscathed. Audiences should be prepared to hear why the internet really exists, how everyone is a little bit racist and that, some days, looking at Kim Kardashian’s fat behind might just be the exercise in schadenfreude you need.

 

Avenue Q

Hillcrest Center for the Arts

403 W. Hillcrest Dr, Thousand Oaks CA

August 17-20, 2016, 8pm

Tickets $15 – 20: 805-381-1246 or online at:

http://www.hillcrstarts.com

 

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