Review: Avenue Q at the Independent Theatre

Updated: Apr 28, 2019

By Lali Gill

North Shore Theatre Company’s production of Avenue Q opened to an excited audience on Friday night, and definitely did not disappoint. Whether it was existing fans of the show (me!) or curious first-timers to this out-there comedic musical - everyone seemed thoroughly engrossed in this story’s hilarious ups and downs.

Following its opening in New York in 2003, Avenue Q has definitely secured its place in the music theatre world, sporting song titles such as Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist and The Internet is for Porn - it’s not a show unnoticed. It follows the journey of Princeton (Pete Davidson) as he moves into Avenue Q and searches for his purpose in life, surrounded by a colourful array of friends. The story is told by both actors and puppets, adding another impressive element to the already layered piece.

This production was simply a whole lot of fun. Beautifully directed by Peter Meredith and choreographed by Laura Beth Wood, the cast moved around the stage with purpose and intent - every scene felt clean, logical and creative all at once.

Unfortunately the show faced some sound issues periodically throughout which included some microphones dropping out, popping, and producing feedback. This resulted in some numbers sounding quite unbalanced, with the band (competently musically directed by Phillip Eames) at times drowning out the actors’ voices. Irrespectively, the musical numbers were strong with the highlights being You Can be as Loud as the Hell You Want (such brave and creative staging!) and Fantasies Come True.

Laura Dawson as Kate was delightful, bringing the character to life with humanity and charm whilst masterfully handling her puppet. Another standout was Cam Ralph as Nicky, who absolutely nailed the unique voice of the character whilst also putting his own spin on it. Jake Severino in the male ensemble was very impressive, never missing a beat and wonderfully expressive throughout. Whilst Christmas Eve (Suzanne Chin) had great energy and a powerful voice, her strong accent mixed with the sound issues made it often difficult to understand her. I also found her to be a little too angry sometimes, which took effect way from certain moments.

The character of Gary Coleman (played by Stephanie Gray) is already a complicated one, furthered by the fact that Stephanie is not African American which meant some of the lines didn’t make sense or just didn’t sit right. I would have been curious to see them play around with the script and perhaps change some things around to better accommodate this character.

EDIT TO ORIGINAL REVIEW:  We thank the team from Avenue Q The Musical for reaching out to provide further information. Stephanie is a Mauritian-Australian actress and identifies as a proud-black woman.

The set was well suited to the show, giving the director and cast a lot to play with yet not being overbearing. Costumes were minimal but also suiting, and the look of the show as a whole was coherent, clean and fun.

Aside from the production’s overall flow and the great acting, the most impressive element of Avenue Q was the masterful way in which the cast handled their puppets. Everyone and their puppet moved as one; coughing together, laughing together. This skill, a difficult one to master, really shon and made for a very coherent show.

Congratulations to North Shore Theatre Company on a wonderful show!

Photo Credit: Alan Roy

All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.