- Avenue Q
Avenue Q logo
Music Robert Lopez
Lyrics Robert Lopez
Book Jeff Whitty Productions 2003 Off Broadway
2005 Las Vegas
2006 West End
2007 North American Tour
2009 Australasian Tour
2009 2nd National Tour
2009 Off Broadway
2011 UK Tour
Awards Tony Award for Best Musical
Tony Award for Best Book
Tony Award for Best Original Score
Avenue Q is a musical in two acts, conceived by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, who wrote the music and lyrics. The book was written by Jeff Whitty and the show was directed by Jason Moore and produced by Kevin McCollum, Robyn Goodman, and Jeffrey Seller. Avenue Q is an "autobiographical and biographical" coming-of-age parable, addressing and satirizing the issues and anxieties associated with entering adulthood. Its characters lament that as children, they were assured by their parents, and by children's television programs such as PBS's Sesame Street, that they were "special" and "could do anything"; but as adults, they have discovered to their surprise and dismay that in the real world their options are limited, and they are no more "special" than anyone else.
Originally conceived as a television series, the show was developed as a stage production at the 2002 National Music Theatre Conference at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, Connecticut. It opened Off Broadway in March 2003, co-produced by The New Group and the Vineyard Theatre, and transferred to Broadway in July 2003 where it won three Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and spawned Las Vegas and West End productions, two national tours, and a variety of international productions.
With 2,534 performances, Avenue Q ranks 21st on the list of longest running shows in Broadway history. The show ended its Broadway run on September 13, 2009, and 6 weeks later reopened in the New World Stages complex on West 50th Street, where it continues to play as an Off Broadway production.
Avenue Q's unique presentation requires substantially more suspension of disbelief by audience members than normal. The cast consists of three human characters and eleven puppet characters who interact as if human, Sesame Street-style. The puppets are animated and voiced by actor/puppeteers who are present, unconcealed, onstage, but remain "invisible" relative to the storyline. That is, the puppets and human characters completely ignore the puppeteers, and the audience is expected to do so as well. This can be a challenge, as puppeteering mechanics are at times complex: the same puppet may be operated by different puppeteers in different scenes, and the actor voicing the puppet may not be the one animating it. One puppeteer sometimes voices two or more puppets simultaneously. Conversely, the so-called "live-hands" puppets (see Puppets, below) require two puppeteers – again, in full view of the audience.
The show draws considerable inspiration from Sesame Street, and substantially imitates its format. Marx interned at the program early in his career, and four of the original cast members—John Tartaglia, Stephanie D'Abruzzo, Jennifer Barnhart and Rick Lyon—were Sesame Street performers. (D'Abruzzo returned to Sesame Street after leaving Avenue Q.) Three of the puppet characters are direct, recognizable parodies of classic Sesame Street puppets: the roommates Rod and Nicky are a riff on Bert and Ernie, while Trekkie Monster bears the distinctive voice and disposition of Cookie Monster (though not his obsession with baked goods). (The production officially disclaims any connection with either Sesame Workshop or The Jim Henson Company.)
All of the characters, puppet and human, represent "amalgamations of things and feelings [Marx and Lopez had been] going through personally." The characters are young adults, searching for their "purpose" in life, and facing real-world adult problems with uncertain outcomes, as opposed to the simplistic problems and invariably happy resolutions faced by characters on children's television programming. Much of the show's ironic humor arises from its contrasts with Sesame Street, a metaphor of the contrasts between childhood and adulthood, and between the children's TV world and the real world. The story line presupposes the existence of "monsters" and talking animals; and human actors sing, dance, and interact with puppets, both human and non-human, as if they were sentient beings, in a light-hearted, quasi-fantasy environment. (No attempt is made to explain why seven of the human characters are played by puppets, while the other three are played by actual humans.) However, the characters face real-world problems; they use abundant profanity in dialogue and musical lyrics; there are episodes of "full puppet nudity" (and puppet sex); and many songs and sub-plots address decidedly adult themes, such as racism, pornography, homosexuality, and schadenfreude.
The show also employs a highly unusual plot device: a real-life, present-day celebrity inserted as a character in a fictional situation within the story. Gary Coleman, the juvenile actor who played Arnold Jackson in the 1980s American sitcom Diff'rent Strokes, and later famously sued his parents and business advisers over misappropriation of his assets, is portrayed (by a woman in most productions) as an adult, forced to accept a job as a building superintendent in the run-down Avenue Q neighborhood due to his dire financial situation. The show's creators have explained this trope as an illustration of "one of the most important themes in Avenue Q...that life isn't as easy as we've been led to believe...and who better to symbolize the oh-so-special-as-a-kid/but-not-so-special-as-an-adult thing we all faced than Gary Coleman? He's practically the poster child."
Marx and Lopez have also said they originally intended to offer the Gary Coleman role to Coleman himself, and he expressed interest in accepting it. However, he never showed up for a meeting scheduled to discuss it. Coleman later threatened repeatedly to sue Avenue Q producers for their depiction of him, but ultimately did not.
When Coleman died on May 28, 2010, casts of both the Off Broadway production in New York City and the second national tour in Dallas dedicated that evening's performances to his memory. The Coleman character remains in the show with modified dialogue.
A fictional street in an "outer-outer borough" of New York City.
Princeton, a recent college graduate, is anxious to discover his purpose in life; but first, he must find an apartment and a job, with no work experience and an English degree. ("What Do You Do with a B.A. in English?") Beginning at Avenue A, he finally finds an affordable apartment on Avenue Q. His new neighbors are Kate Monster, a kindergarten teaching assistant; Rod, an anal-retentive Republican banker, and Nicky, his slacker roommate; Brian, an aspiring comedian recently laid off from his day job; Christmas Eve, Brian's Asian fiancée and a therapist with no clients; Trekkie Monster, a surly recluse who surfs the Internet all day in search of porn; and Gary Coleman, the building superintendent. Arguments ensue over whose life sucks the most. ("It Sucks to Be Me")
Nicky, who is straight, suspects that Rod is gay, and assures Rod it is okay with him if he is; but Rod insists he is not. ("If You Were Gay")
Princeton finds a lucky penny and starts searching for his purpose in life ("Purpose"). Kate dreams of starting a "Monstersori" school for young "people of fur." Princeton innocently asks Kate if she and Trekkie are related, since they are both monsters. Kate says that assumption is racist. Princeton, taken aback, counters that Kate's Monstersori School would discriminate against non-monsters. They and the neighbors agree that racism is an adult reality. (“Everyone's a Little Bit Racist”)
Princeton receives money from his parents, and the Bad Idea Bears, two charming troublemakers, convince him to spend it on beer. Kate's boss, Mrs. Thistletwat, assigns Kate to teach the next morning's kindergarten class, her first solo teaching opportunity. She decides her lesson will be the Internet, and all its educational attributes, but Trekkie Monster explains another reality of adulthood: lots of adults (men, anyway) use it for pornography. ("The Internet is for Porn")
Princeton gives Kate a mixtape. His song selections are puzzling, making her wonder what message he is trying to send, but eventually she decides that he must like her ("Mixtape"). Sure enough, he invites her on a date to the Around the Clock Café. Brian, the café's MC, does his raunchy standup act ("I'm Not Wearing Underwear Today"), then introduces Lucy the Slut, a skanky chanteuse who wows the guys, especially Princeton, with a seductive cabaret number ("Special"). The Bad Idea Bears suggest that Kate and Princeton order some "harmless" Long Island Iced Teas, and, once Kate is totally inebriated, that Princeton take her home to bed.
Kate and Princeton have enthusiastic, high-decibel sex. Gary fields angry calls from other tenants but refuses to intercede. ("You Can Be as Loud as the Hell You Want When You're Makin' Love") Meanwhile, Rod hears Nicky say, "I love you, Rod," in his sleep, and is jubilant, but eventually realizes it was he who was dreaming. Kate and Princeton profess their mutual love, and Princeton gives Kate his lucky penny. ("Fantasies Come True")
The next morning, a hung-over Kate misses her teaching assignment. Mrs. Thistletwat berates her, and Kate angrily quits her job before she can be fired. Christmas Eve decides unilaterally that it is time she and Brian were married. At the wedding, Nicky blurts out his suspicion that Rod is gay. Rod, furious, insists he has a girlfriend named Alberta in Vancouver ("My Girlfriend Who Lives in Canada") and tells Nicky he is no longer welcome in their apartment.
When Kate catches Christmas Eve's wedding bouquet, Princeton confesses a fear of commitment and asks Kate if they can just be friends. Kate retorts that she has plenty of friends, and breaks off their relationship. ("There's a Fine, Fine Line")
A despondent Princeton has been holed up in his apartment after breaking up with Kate, but is coaxed out by the neighbors. ("There is Life Outside Your Apartment") Lucy is looking for a place to crash and seduces the rebounding Princeton. Kate is angry, but Christmas Eve explains that her anger means she loves Princeton. ("The More You Ruv Someone") Kate writes a note to Princeton suggesting that they rendezvous at the Empire State Building, and leaves it with Lucy, who promptly destroys it.
A homeless Nicky laments his fate to Gary, who confesses that he is deriving pleasure from Nicky's misfortune ("Schadenfreude").
On the Empire State Building's viewing platform, Kate, thinking that Princeton has stood her up, throws his lucky penny away. A hundred stories below, Lucy, walking by on 5th Avenue, is knocked unconscious by the penny.
Kate and Princeton unsuccessfully attempt to work out their problems over Lucy's comatose body. Rod is too proud to accept Nicky's repeated apologies, despite clearly missing him, and tearfully consults with Christmas Eve. Princeton, Kate, and Nicky dream of returning to happier times ("I Wish I Could Go Back to College").
Princeton gives a still-homeless, panhandling Nicky a quarter, and marvels at how fantastic he feels. Since thinking only about himself has gotten him nowhere, he decides to raise money to build Kate's Monstersori School. He solicits everyone, even breaking the fourth wall to shake down the audience, ("The Money Song") with disappointing results; but Trekkie Monster, recalling his own traumatic school experience, donates ten million dollars, explaining to the astonished cast, "In volatile market, only stable investment is porn!" ("School for Monsters/The Money Song (Reprise)")
Kate joyfully opens her new school. Brian lands a consulting job and Christmas Eve finally has a paying client (Rod), so the newlyweds move to a better neighborhood. Rod finally comes out, to no one's particular surprise, and takes Nicky back in. Nicky finds Rod a boyfriend, Ricky, a muscle-bound hunk who looks and sounds exactly like Nicky. The Bad Idea Bears discover Scientology. Lucy, recovered from her head injury, becomes a born-again Christian and takes a vow of chastity. Kate and Princeton agree to give their relationship another go ("There's a Fine, Fine Line (Reprise)").
A new college graduate inquires about the vacancy in the building, ("What Do You Do with a BA in English (Reprise)") and Princeton has an epiphany: maybe his purpose is to pass on everything he has learned about real life in a Broadway musical. Everybody, especially the new guy, immediately ridicules him. The cast reminds Princeton that in the real world many people never find their purpose; but life goes on, and everything, both good and bad, is "only for now." ("For Now")
- Act I
- "The Avenue Q Theme" – Company
- "What Do You Do with a B.A. in English?" – Princeton
- "It Sucks to Be Me" – Brian, Kate Monster, Rod, Nicky, Christmas Eve, Gary Coleman, and Princeton
- "If You Were Gay" – Nicky with Rod
- "Purpose" – Princeton and Company (via "singing boxes")
- "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist" – Princeton, Kate, Gary, Brian, and Christmas Eve
- "The Internet Is for Porn" – Kate, Trekkie Monster, Brian, Gary Coleman, Rod, and Princeton
- "Mix Tape" – Kate and Princeton
- "I'm Not Wearing Underwear Today" – Brian
- "Special" – Lucy
- "You Can Be as Loud as the Hell You Want (When You're Makin' Love)" – Gary, The Bad Idea Bears, Princeton, Kate, and Company
- "Fantasies Come True" – Rod, Kate, Nicky and Princeton
- "My Girlfriend, Who Lives in Canada" – Rod
- "There's a Fine, Fine Line" – Kate
- Act II
- "It Sucks to Be Me (Reprise)"‡ – Princeton
- "There is Life Outside Your Apartment" – Brian, Princeton, Christmas Eve, Gary, Nicky, Trekkie Monster, Lucy, and Company
- "The More You Ruv Someone" – Christmas Eve and Kate
- "Schadenfreude" – Gary and Nicky
- "I Wish I Could Go Back to College" – Kate, Nicky and Princeton
- "The Money Song" – Nicky, Princeton, Gary, Brian and Christmas Eve
- "School for Monsters" – Trekkie Monster and Company
- "The Money Song (Reprise)" – Nicky, Princeton, Gary, Brian and Christmas Eve
- "There's a Fine, Fine Line (Reprise)" – Princeton and Kate
- "What Do You Do With a B.A. in English? (Reprise)" – Newcomer
- "For Now" – Company
‡ = "It Sucks to Be Me (Reprise)" was not part of the original show or original cast recording. It was added to the Las Vegas production, and subsequently became part of the current off-Broadway show.
The musical is scored for acoustic and electric bass, drums, guitars, banjo, clarinet, alto sax, flute, oboe, and two electronic keyboards.
Other Avenue Q songs
Eight additional songs were written for Avenue Q or associated promotions, but are not part of the show itself.
- "Tear It Up and Throw It Away": Originally performed early in the first act, between "What Do You Do with a BA in English?" and "If You Were Gay"; Kate is called for jury duty, and Nicky advises her to ignore the summons, pretending it was lost in the mail. ("Your civic duty? Who gives a doody?") Kate tears up the summons and is ticketed for littering. The number was cut during Off Broadway rehearsals because it had no relevance to the plot, and because, according to Stephanie D'Abruzzo, there was no judicious way to dispose of the paper scraps, which remained onstage throughout Act One. The cut came so late that early promotional materials included references to the song, and its main melody can be heard underscoring dialog in "The Money Song" on the original cast recording. It was included on a CD that accompanied the original souvenir program, but not on the cast recording. An original audio clip is available on YouTube.
- "Time": A video created for the London production, and originally shown on the on-stage video screens during intermission, just prior to the second act curtain; Nicky (Simon Lipkin) sits on the toilet in the theatre's men's room at intermission, singing about all the chores he is getting done between acts. Several audience members waiting to use the stall become increasingly annoyed. British comedian Matt Lucas has a cameo role. The song was cut during early previews for unspecified reasons, but remained on the CD that accompanied the souvenir brochure, and was shown at the final West End performance on 30 October 2010. A video can be viewed on YouTube.
- "Rod's Dilemma": Written for Tony Award voters, this song spoofs Avenue Q's competition for the 2004 Tony for Best Musical, and the entire Tony voting process. In the Rotary Club presidential election, Rod cannot decide whether to vote for the guy he has a crush on (symbolizing The Boy from Oz), a wealthy man (Wicked), or an old friend (Caroline, or Change). The neighbors advise him against voting "for your friends, 'cause they say you should vote for the candidate you think is good." The song was a part of the production's successful Tony Award campaign, called "Q '04 Now! Vote Your Heart!". An audio cut is available on YouTube.
- "Only in Vegas": This parody of Las Vegas-style show tunes was written to promote the Las Vegas production. It featured Rick Lyon operating a Steve Wynn puppet, who tells the cast of Avenue Q how happy they will be in Las Vegas. The song was performed on the Regis and Kelly syndicated television show and in some press and media events.
- "Rod's Christmas": Found on the CD Broadway's Greatest Gifts: Carols for a Cure, Vol. 5: Rod headlines at the "Don't Tell Daddy's Cabaret and Night Club" (a parody of the New York piano bar Don't Tell Mama, which is named for a song from the musical Cabaret). Rod sings that Christmas is the time of year where he can combine his two great loves, "Christmas carols and show tunes."
- "The Holi-daze": Found on the CD Broadway's Greatest Gifts: Carols for a Cure, Vol. 8. Written by Michael Patrick Walker and Phoebe Kreutz (who both worked on the Broadway and Off Broadway productions of Avenue Q), the members of the company sing about how they cope with the stresses and problems of the Holiday season. The song does not feature any characters from the show, but was recorded by several of the original Avenue Q cast members and band members, and was sub-titled "Drinkin' Our Way Through The Holidays."
- "Christmas": "Purpose" with new, festive lyrics. Written by the company of Avenue Q/London for Theatrecares' "West End Christmas" charity event. It is on a special CD, but can also be heard at Jon Robyns's Web site.
- "How Much Do the People in Your Neighborhood Make?": A parody on the classic Sesame Street song, "Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood", the song was written very early in the show's history, and dropped when the original television show format was abandoned in favor of a stage production.
The Avenue Q puppets, which cost up to USD $10,000 each, and require up to 120 hours of hand fabrication per character, were designed and built by original cast member Rick Lyon. Lyon's company, Lyon Puppets, continues to build and maintain the puppets used in all North American productions, and several of the international productions, including those from England, Australia, Mexico, Argentina and Brazil, while supervising the construction of those from the Finnish and Swedish productions. Their unusually sturdy construction, with double-stitching, reinforced seams, steel boning, and custom fake fur and feathers, is necessitated by the rigors of an eight-shows-per-week performance schedule.
Three distinct types of puppets are used in the show:
Princeton, Kate Monster
Single-rod puppets consist of a head and a torso with two arms, one movable for gestures and one decorative. The puppeteer controls the puppet's head and mouth with his or her dominant hand, and holds a rod in the other hand that is attached to the puppet's movable arm. The nonfunctional arm is either "posed" in a permanent gesture or attached to the puppet's torso.
Rod, Lucy, The Bad Idea Bears, The Newcomer
Double-rod puppets are identical to single-rod puppets except that both arms are movable, each controlled by a separate rod. The head and mouth are controlled in the same way, with the dominant hand, and the two rods are held in the other hand. The puppeteer drops one rod temporarily when only one arm requires animation.
Nicky, Trekkie Monster, Mrs. Thistletwat, Ricky
Live-hands puppets require two puppeteers, each of whom contributes one hand and arm dressed with a long sleeve and glove matching the puppet's costume, which become the arms and hands of the puppet. The speaking puppeteer controls the puppet's left hand and head/mouth, while the second, silent operator controls the right hand. (Roles are sometimes reversed if the speaking puppeteer is left-handed.) During Avenue Q, one puppeteer will sometimes leave to take over another puppet, leaving the live-hands puppet with a single operator and only one functioning hand. In a variation, one or both of the puppet's hands can be attached to its torso to permit operation by a single puppeteer.
Avenue Q ran Off Broadway at the Vineyard Theatre from March through May, 2003, and won the 2003 Lucille Lortel Award for Best Musical.
Avenue Q opened on Broadway at the John Golden Theatre on July 31, 2003, following previews from July 10. The production was directed by Jason Moore and choreographed by Ken Roberson, with set design by Anna Louizos, costume design by Mirena Rada, lighting design by Howell Binkley, musical supervision by Stephen Oremus, musical direction by Gary Adler, and puppet design by Rick Lyon. The show was nominated for six Tony Awards and won three, in the categories of Best Musical, Best Original Score, and Best Original Book.
After 22 previews and 2,534 regular performances, it closed on September 13, 2009. As of June 21, 2009, the production had grossed over USD $117 million and had returned profits of USD $23.5 million to its investors. (All of the money collected from the audience during "The Money Song" is donated to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.)
In October 2009 the show reopened in the New World Stages complex on West 50th Street, where it continues to play as an Off-Broadway production.
2005 Las Vegas Production
In September 2005, Avenue Q opened at the Wynn Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas under a production contract that precluded Avenue Q tours in North America during the Las Vegas run. A new 1,200 seat theater was built especially for the show. Variations from the Broadway production included a new reprise of "It Sucks to Be Me" for Princeton at the top of Act Two, some new orchestrations, a trimmed "The Money Song," and a new rock arrangement of "There Is Life Outside Your Apartment," as well as a few jokes written specifically for Las Vegas audiences.
Attendance was well below anticipated levels, due at least in part to the constant turnover of tourists in Las Vegas, which rendered the cultivation of word-of-mouth publicity virtually impossible. In mid-January 2006 the show was cut to 90 minutes and the intermission was removed. Hotel owner Steve Wynn promoted the show heavily, at one point decorating 20 city cabs in orange fuzz and large white "Q" letters. All such efforts were unsuccessful, and the show closed on May 28, 2006 after a nine-month run, terminating the exclusivity agreement and opening the way for national tours.
2006 London Production
A Cameron Mackintosh-produced version of Avenue Q premiered in 2006 in London's West End at the Noël Coward Theatre (formerly the Albery Theatre). Several adaptive changes were made for British audiences, including portrayal of the Gary Coleman character by a male actor. The production ran 1,179 performances through March 2009, then reopened in June 2009 at the Gielgud Theatre. After a further 327 performances, the show moved in March 2010 to the Wyndham's Theatre, where it closed on October 30, 2010 after a five-year run.
First U.S./Canada tour
The first national tour began at the Spreckels Theatre in San Diego, California on June 30, 2007. Broadway director and choreographer Jason Moore and Ken Roberson returned in those roles, as did most other Broadway creative team members. The tour played a total of 721 performances in 22 cities, and closed at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center in Appleton, Wisconsin on May 10, 2009. The Toronto leg of the tour featured a contest in which entrants uploaded photos of themselves posing with their favorite Avenue Q puppet. Contest winners, and their photos, remain posted on the local production company's Web site.
Second national tour
A second national tour opened in Clemson, South Carolina in September 2009 under direction of the same creative team, and closed in Huntsville Alabama on April 23, 2011.
2009 Australian/New Zealand production
An Australian production opened in June 2009 at the Comedy Theatre, Melbourne, Victoria, featuring a local cast, including Michala Banas as Kate/Lucy. The production visited Sydney in August, before touring Canberra (Australian Capital Territory), Perth (Western Australia), Adelaide (South Australia), Brisbane (Queensland), and Auckland in New Zealand, and closed in June 2010.
The first UK national tour began at the Theatre Royal Bath in February, 2011 and closed at Northampton's Derngate in July.
A second UK tour is scheduled to begin in February, 2012 in Edinburgh, with additional performances in Cheltenham, Wolverhampton, Dublin, and Leicester.
Other international productions
The first translated version of the musical opened in February in Stockholm, Sweden, at Maxim Teatern.
A Finnish production played at the Savoy Theatre in Helsinki from February to May.
The first and second of five separate Filipino productions (in English) opened in Manila in September and December at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, directed by Bobby Garcia and Chari Arespacochaga. The original Manila cast included Felix Rivera as Princeton and Rod, and Rachel Alejandro as Kate Monster and Lucy The Slut.
An Israeli production opened in October in Tel Aviv at the Beth Lessin Theatre, directed by Moshe Kepten and translated into Hebrew by Eli Bijaoui. Script modifications included replacement of the Gary Coleman character by Michal Yannai, Former "Queen of Children", played by Yannai herself; and a Mexican Christmas Eve. As of mid-2011 it continues to run at Beth Lessin Theatre.
The Israeli production moved to Jerusalem and Haifa in January and February before returning to Tel Aviv in March.
A Mexican version ran from April to October at Centro Cultural Telmex in Mexico City and then moved to Guadalajara and Monterrey. Production modifications included a completely redesigned set, puppeteers clad in bold colors instead of the customary black, and bus company advertisements on set. The Gary Coleman character was replaced with peripheral references to a local actor, Carlos Espejel, who was not identified by name at his request. (He reportedly complained anyway.) The cast included teen-band star Christian Chávez.
The Filipino troupe staged its third and fourth successful runs in Manila in April and June, then moved to Singapore, where they played in October and November at the Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay.
The Swedish troupe began touring their production in October, playing Umeå, Linköping, Gävle, Örebro, Halmstad, Lund, Kungsbacka, and Skövde. before returning to Stockholm in April 2009.
In February, a Hungarian version opened in the Centrál Színház in Budapest. The character representing Gary Coleman (a relative unknown in Hungary) was replaced with "Michael Jackson", who ended up on Avenue Q, according to the story, after losing all his money in lawsuits filed by young boys. Following the real Jackson's death in August 2009, the character began claiming he had "followed Elvis's advice" and faked his own death to escape immense debts. ("Tina Turner was right, I really shouldn't have bought that fifth amusement park!") The show otherwise closely followed the London script, and ran through February 2011 in Budapest.
In Istanbul, Turkey, the show premiered in March at the Haldun Dormen Tiyatrosu.
In Brazil, the musical opened in June in Rio de Janeiro, where it won 5 Shell Awards, the most prestigious Brazilian theatre honors. A national tour began in São Paulo in late 2009 and continued into 2010.
The show premiered in Italy in October in Bologna, and moved to Rome in November. The Italian troupe's puppets were designed by quick-change artist Arturo Brachetti, based on popular Italian artists and show business personalities. Kate Monster and Trekkie Monster became Kate Pelosa and Trekkie Peloso (peloso in Italian means "hairy").
The last of the five Filipino productions ran for 16 performances in February, in Manila, with most of the original Filipino cast.
In February the Italian production closed in Rome and began a national tour.
In September a Spanish production opened at Teatro Nuevo Apolo de Madrid, directed by David Ottone, with puppets built by Manuel Roman.
Another Spanish-language production opened in September at Teatro La Plaza in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
In December the show played at the Tokyo International Forum in Tokyo, Japan, for two weeks.
A German-language production premiered in St. Gallen, Switzerland on February 26 at The Theater St. Gallen and closed on May 21.
Principal original casts of major productions of Avenue Q:
Character Original Broadway Cast Original West End Cast Original US Touring Cast Original UK Touring Cast Princeton/Rod John Tartaglia Jon Robyns Robert McClure Adam Pettigrew Kate Monster/Lucy Stephanie D'Abruzzo Julie Atherton Kelli Sawyer Rachel Jerram Nicky/Trekkie/Bear Rick Lyon Simon Lipkin Christian Anderson Chris Thatcher Gary Coleman Natalie Venetia Belcon Giles Terera Carla Renata Matthew J Henry Christmas Eve Ann Harada Angela Ai Jacqueline Tate Brian Jordan Gelber Sion Lloyd Cole Porter Edward Judge Mrs T/Bear Jennifer Barnhart Clare Foster Minglie Chen Katharine Moraz
Avenue Q: School Edition
Avenue Q: School Edition, a collaboration of the creators of Avenue Q and Music Theatre International, was created to facilitate production of the musical by high school drama departments. Most of the profanity is removed from the script and score, and two songs ("My Girlfriend Who Lives in Canada" and "You Can Be As Loud as the Hell You Want") are removed. "The Internet is For Porn" is replaced with "Social Life is Online," and Trekkie's obsession with pornography is replaced by an obsession with social networking sites. The characters Mrs. Thistletwat and Lucy the Slut are renamed Mrs. Butz and Lucy, respectively. The scenes involving the Bad Idea Bears are altered to put less emphasis on alcohol. MTI states that these alterations make the musical easier for high schools to perform, while at the same time, maintaining the original intent and integrity of the piece.
Avenue Q promotional events
On September 30, 2004, the day of the first Bush–Kerry presidential debate, on a stage set up in Times Square, the cast of Avenue Q presented their version of the debate, called Avenue Q&A, with portrait puppets of Bush and Kerry created by Rick Lyon. Eighteen television networks covered the event. Lyon operated the Bush puppet, while Jennifer Barnhart operated the Kerry puppet. Each puppet sang responses to questions from Avenue Q's concerned residents, and the whole cast sang "Vote Your Heart" (see Other Songs above) to the rain-drenched crowd.
Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa puppets created by Lyon hosted the first few minutes of an episode of Live with Regis and Kelly. In addition, Rod and John Tartaglia did "man on the street"-style interviews on the 2005 NBC broadcast of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Rod and John also appeared alongside other Broadway stars in a World AIDS Day benefit concert of Pippin held at the Manhattan Center on November 29, 2004; Rod played "The Head."
In another World AIDS Day benefit in 2005, the original cast of Avenue Q and the cast of the Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof presented a 10-minute spoof of both musicals called "Avenue Jew." Tevye, his wife Golde, and his two remaining daughters, having immigrated to the USA, arrive on Avenue Jew, an area inhabited by Jewish puppets (Jewish versions of the Avenue Q characters), and some human Jews such as Brian and Hannukah Eve. The human Jews are fed up with the puppet Jews upstaging them. Jewish-American Princeton arrives asking "What do you do with a B.A. in Yiddish?" One of Tevye's daughter's, Shprintze, falls in love with Princeton, but Tevye forbids their union. Trekkie Monster sings the Fiddler Theme and then eats the fiddle. The Matchmaker (who is played by Mrs. Thistletwat) sets Rod up with Lazar Wolf ("I'm a lonely man, Tevye"). After a brief interior monologue, Tevye finally consents to Princeton and Shprintze's marriage. Rod and Lazar Wolf also wish to be wed, and ask permission from the Tsar, a George W. Bush puppet, who forbids a gay marriage. Ben Brantley interrupts, asking who the real Jewish people in the cast are, and the company concludes with "everyone's a little bit Jewish" and "in theatre you can be whatever you want to be."
In November 2005, the Avenue Q website held a "One Night Stand" contest for amateur puppeteers and their puppets. Andrew MacDonald Smith and his puppet Maurice Tipo won, and on March 10, 2006, appeared in the evening performance in the opening song, the café scene, and the curtain call.
In July 2006, several members of Avenue Q performed for the opening ceremonies of the Gay Games in Chicago. In October 2006, Jonathan Root and Princeton presented the award for Best Young Adult Novel at the Quill Awards. In November 2006, the London cast appeared on the BBC program Children in Need and performed "It Sucks To Be Me."  In December 2006, the London cast performed on the Royal Variety Performance and performed "It Sucks To Be Me," "For Now," and "Special," in which Lucy The Slut suggested through lyrics and dialogue she was making a pass at Charles, Prince of Wales.
The cast and puppets appeared briefly in the 2007 "This Is New York" tourist ad campaign.
The cast and puppets took to the stage at Trafalgar Square on 4 July 2009 as part of the "London Pride 2009" celebration, performing "If You Were Gay", "Special" and "For Now" with 'Lucy The Slut' assuring all the ladies in the audience that she is bisexual.
Cast members appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon on August 13, 2009 to promote the last month of shows, performing "The Internet is for Porn" for the first time on national television.
As a response to the Muppets' Bohemian Rhapsody video, Avenue Q created a video called We Will Rock Q. Released on YouTube on May 4, 2010, it features the Off-Broadway cast performing covers of the Queen songs "We Will Rock You" and "We Are the Champions".
Original Broadway cast recording
The original cast recording was made on August 10, 2003, at Right Track Studio A in New York City, produced by Grammy Award winner Jay David Saks for RCA Victor. The album contains almost all of the music from the show, with the original Broadway cast and orchestra. Released on October 6, 2003, it has been in the top ten of the Billboard Top Cast Album Chart since the chart's launch on January 12, 2006. It was nominated for the Musical Show Album category in the 2004 Grammy Awards.
An Original Madrid Cast Album was recorded live at Teatro Nuevo Apolo on October 9, 2010 and released on November, 2010.
Avenue Q received generally favorable notices, both nationally and internationally.
New York Times theatre critic Ben Brantley called it a "...savvy, sassy and eminently likable...breakthrough musical", and compared its potential long-term influence to West Side Story and The King and I.
The New Yorker described it as "...an ingenious combination of 'The Real World' and Sesame Street".
The Times described it as "...how Friends might be if it had Fozzie Bear and Miss Piggy arguing about their one-night stand, but with more angst, expletives and full-on puppet sex."
Avenue Q made Entertainment Weekly's 2010 end-of-the-decade "best-of" list: "This 2003 smash musical is Sesame Street for grown-ups, with filthy-minded puppets who teach useful lessons like 'The Internet Is for Porn.' Somewhere, Big Bird is molting."
Awards and nominations
Original Off-Broadway production
Year Award Ceremony Category Nominee Result Ref 2003 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Musical Nominated  Outstanding Book of a Musical Jeff Whitty Nominated Outstanding Actress in a Musical Stephanie D'Abruzzo Nominated Outstanding Lyrics Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx Nominated Outstanding Music Nominated 2004 GLAAD Media Award Outstanding NY Theatre Broadway and Off-Broadway Nominated  Outstanding Theatre Production (Los Angeles) Won
Original Broadway production
Year Award Ceremony Category Nominee Result Ref 2004 Tony Award Best Musical Won  Best Book of a Musical Jeff Whitty Won Best Original Score Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx Won Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical John Tartaglia Nominated Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical Stephanie D'Abruzzo Nominated Best Direction of a Musical Jason Moore Nominated 2005 Grammy Awards Best Musical Show Album Nominated 
Original London production
Year Award Ceremony Category Nominee Result Ref 2006 Variety Club Award Theatre Award Original London Cast Won  2007 Laurence Olivier Award Best New Musical Nominated  WhatsOnStage.com Award Best New Musical Nominated  Best Ensemble Performance Original London Cast Won
Second National Tour
Year Award Ceremony Category Nominee Result Ref 2007 Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award Outstanding Puppet Design Rick Lyon Won  2008 Helen Hayes Award Outstanding Non-Resident Production Won 
Original Israeli production
Year Award Ceremony Category Nominee Result Ref 2008 Israeli Theatre Awards Best Entertainment Show Won  Best Translator Nominated Best Choreographer Nominated
- ^ a b c d e Dobbs, Aaron (December 17, 2004). "Jeff Marx & Robert Lopez, Creators Avenue Q". Gothamist. http://gothamist.com/2004/12/17/jeff_marx_robert_lopez_creators_avenue_q.php. Retrieved 2010-05-30.
- ^ a b Spencer, David. AISLE SAY New York Retrieved 2010-07-04.
- ^ a b c Gans, Andrew. "Avenue Q to Close in September", playbill.com, June 29, 2009. Retrieved on 2009-06-29.
- ^ . "Avenue Is Now at New World Stages", avenueq.com, June 29, 2009. Retrieved on 2009-09-13.
- ^ . "AVENUE Q Headed Back Off Broadway - Show to Open October 9 at New World Stages!", broadwayworld.com, September 13, 2009. Retrieved on 2009-09-14.
- ^ "The On-Air Cast." SesameStreet.org Retrieved 2010-07-01.
- ^ shhh! don't tell my mom! (2009-04-14). "Trekkie Monster". Urban Dictionary. http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Trekkie%20Monster. Retrieved 2010-06-04.
- ^ Johns, Ian (2006-05-29). "These toys are really us-Arts & Entertainment-TimesOnline". Entertainment news and arts news from The Times and Sunday Times -TimesOnline (London: Times Newspapers Ltd): p. 1. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,585-2199121,00.html. Retrieved 2007-04-15. "During early previews in the States we invited Jim Henson's widow and children and they could see that what we were doing was an homage and love letter to Sesame Street." Johns, Ian (2006-05-29). "These toys are really us". The Times (London: Telegraph Newspapers Ltd). http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/article727305.ece. Retrieved 2007-04-15.
- ^ "Gary Coleman settles his long dispute with parents." Jet Magazine, Nov 15, 1993. Retrieved 2010-07-01.
- ^ "Gary Coleman – New York Comic Con 2007 – TheActionRoom.com". YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qPCOuyGacRs. Retrieved 2010-05-28.
- ^ Propst, Andy (May 28, 2010). "Gary Coleman, Star of Diff'rent Strokes and Character in Avenue Q, Dies at 42.". Theater Mania. http://www.theatermania.com/off-broadway/news/05-2010/gary-coleman-star-of-diffrent-strokes-and-a-charac_27775.html. Retrieved May 29, 2010.
- ^ Silverman, Stephen M. (2010-05-28). "Diff'rent Strokes Star Gary Coleman Dies at 42". People.com. http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20389492,00.html. Retrieved 2010-06-04.
- ^ Itzkoff, Dave (May 29, 2010): ‘Avenue Q' Deals With Death of Gary Coleman NYTimes.com. Retrieved 2010-6-8.
- ^ DIVA TALK: A Chat with Avenue Q's Stephanie D'Abruzzo (September 26, 2003). Playbill.com Retrieved 2010-07-07
- ^ Original audio of Tear It Up and Throw It Away Retrieved 2011-01-25.
- ^ Original video of Time
- ^ "Avenue Q Urges Community to "Vote Your Heart" at Invited Party in New York". Playbill.com. 2004-05-13. http://www.playbill.com/news/article/86139-Avenue-Q-Urges-Community-to-Vote-Your-Heart-at-Invited-Party-in-New-York. Retrieved 2010-06-04.
- ^ "MARQUEE VALUE: Avenue Q Goes on the Campaign Trail at the Golden". Playbill.com. http://www.playbill.com/features/article/86118-MARQUEE-VALUE-Avenue-Q-Goes-on-the-Campaign-Trail-at-the-Golden. Retrieved 2010-06-04.
- ^ Audio cut of Rod's Dilemma Retrieved 2011-01-25.
- ^ Jon Robyns's official website
- ^ "Puppet Regime: Rick Lyon." Bloomberg BusinessWeek. Retrieved 2010-07-08.
- ^ Soltes, John (August 14, 2008). "Meeting up with Rick Lyon on Avenue Q". The Leader (Leader Newspapers). http://leadernewspapers.net/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=7888&new_topic=18.
- ^ "The Art of Puppetry: PUPPETS: ART AND AMUSEMENT" puppetsbostonguild.org. Retrieved July 17, 2009.
- ^ Gans, Andrew."Avenue Q to Reopen Off Broadway in October; Casting Announced" playbill.com, September 24, 2009
- ^ Richard Abowitz, Avenue Q Gets Spam-ed by Steve Wynn, LATimes.com, February 15, 2006. Retrieved 2008-01-06.
- ^ "AVENUE Q Finds A New Home In The West End 2010/01/21". Westend.broadwayworld.com. 2010-01-21. http://westend.broadwayworld.com/article/AVENUE_Q_Finds_A_New_Home_In_The_West_End_20100121. Retrieved 2010-06-04.
- ^ "Gielgud Theatre Announces HAIR, Opens April 14, 2010 2009/11/16". Broadwayworld.com. http://broadwayworld.com/article/Gielgud_Theatre_Announces_HAIR_Opens_April_14_2010_20091116. Retrieved 2010-06-04.
- ^ 
- ^ "Old Globe Productions," retrieved 11 July 2007[dead link]
- ^ Playbill.com news article playbill.com, May 10, 2009
- ^ "You On Avenue Q". You On Avenue Q. http://www.youonavenueq.com/contest. Retrieved 2010-06-04.
- ^ "Avenue Q Australia". Avenueqthemusical.com.au. http://www.avenueqthemusical.com.au. Retrieved 2010-06-04.
- ^ Avenue Q 2011 UK Tour Schedule
- ^ Avenue Q to tour again in 2012. Musical Theatre News Retrieved August 18, 2011
- ^ "Felix Rivera Finds His Purpose" Accessed: 1 June 2007.
- ^ "Rachel Joins Avenue Q" Accessed: 1 June 2007.
- ^ Information about the Israeli production
- ^ Mexican production
- ^ "Commentary on Avenue Q México(Spanish)". Eluniversal.com.mx. http://www.eluniversal.com.mx/espectaculos/82895.html. Retrieved 2010-06-04.
- ^ MostrarFecha();. "Carlos Espejel upset against show (Spanish)". Esmas.com. http://www.esmas.com/laoreja/noticias/736830.html. Retrieved 2010-06-04.
- ^ Noel Orsal. "The Number One Site for Philippine Showbiz | Theater | "Avenue Q" says goodbye Manila, hello Singapore". PEP.ph. http://www.pep.ph/guide/2049/Avenue-Q-says-goodbye-Manila,-hello-Singapore. Retrieved 2010-06-04.
- ^ "Avenue Q". Mtishows.com. http://www.mtishows.com/show_home.asp?ID=000321. Retrieved 2010-06-04.
- ^ "Tusentals evenemang inom Kultur, NĂśje och Sport". Ticnet .se. http://www.ticnet.se/html/searchResult.htmI?l=SE&defaultKeyword=Ange+artist%2C+titel+eller+arena&keyword=Avenue+Q. Retrieved 2010-06-04.
- ^ ""Avenue Q" på Vasan! - mama". Mama.nu. 2009-02-19. http://www.mama.nu/blogg/pernillas-blogg/2009/02/19/avenye-q-pa-vasan/. Retrieved 2010-06-04.
- ^ "The Hungarian homepage of the show". Avenueq.hu. http://www.avenueq.hu. Retrieved 2010-06-04.
- ^ "avenueqistanbul.com". avenueqistanbul.com. http://www.avenueqistanbul.com/. Retrieved 2010-06-04.
- ^ Moeller Botelho Retrieved 2010-08-15.
- ^ Avenue Q is BACK with Rachel Alejandro! Our Awesome Planet Retrieved 2010-08-15.
- ^ Avenue Q se prepara para su llegada a Madrid BroadwayWorld.com Retrieved 2010-09-10.
- ^ Avenida Q El Musical. Entrada Teatro (official Web site of Teatro La Plaza) Retrieved 2010-09-27./
- ^ [aveq.jp]
- ^ Theater St. Gallen website Retrieved March 11, 2011
- ^ AVENUE Q SCHOOL EDITION – Sign Up for Fast Track Notification. May 24, 2011.
- ^ Avenue Q School Edition on Music Theatre International.
- ^ Regis and Kelly Puppets. LyonPuppets.com Retrieved 2010-07-04.
- ^ "DIVA TALK: Avenue Q and Fiddler Spread Joy at Easter Bonnet, Divas on Disc Plus News of Wicked Stars". Playbill.com. 2004-04-23. http://www.playbill.com/news/article/85734.html. Retrieved 2010-06-04.
- ^ "Avenue Q on Children in need". YouTube. 2006-11-20. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NLnz2bXqjes. Retrieved 2010-06-04.
- ^ "Avenue Q - We Will Rock Q". YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TaMOnUg6fKQ. Retrieved 2010-06-04.
- ^ Information from Billboard, November 2006
- ^ Information from Variety, December 7, 2004
- ^ Brantley, Ben (August 1, 2003): "A Feeling You're Not On Sesame Street." nytimes.com Retrieved 2010-07-08.
- ^ Als, Hilton (August 11, 2003): "Mayhem and Madness." New Yorker Archive Retrieved 2010-07-08.
- ^ Johns, Ian (May 29, 2006): "These Toys are Really Us." Times of London Archive Retrieved 2010-07-08.
- ^ Geier, Thom; Jensen, Jeff; Jordan, Tina; Lyons, Margaret; Markovitz, Adam; Nashawaty, Chris; Pastorek, Whitney; Rice, Lynette; Rottenberg, Josh; Schwartz, Missy; Slezak, Michael; Snierson, Dan; Stack, Tim; Stroup, Kate; Tucker, Ken; Vary, Adam B.; Vozick-Levinson, Simon; Ward, Kate (December 11, 2009), "THE 100 Greatest MOVIES, TV SHOWS, ALBUMS, BOOKS, CHARACTERS, SCENES, EPISODES, SONGS, DRESSES, MUSIC VIDEOS, AND TRENDS THAT ENTERTAINED US OVER THE PAST 10 YEARS". Entertainment Weekly. (1079/1080):74-84
- ^ Drama Desk Nominations
- ^ a b Avenue Q News Archive
- ^ Broadwayworld.com
- ^ Avenue Q on theatreguide
- ^ Olivier Winners 2007
- ^ Whatsonstage Awards
- ^ Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle
- ^ Helen Hayes Award Listings
- ^ "ynet פרסי התיאטרון: הקאמרי מוביל - תרבות ובידור". Ynet.co.il. 1995-06-20. http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-3513998,00.html. Retrieved 2010-06-04.
- Official website
- Tour website
- Paris Production Website
- London Production Website
- İstanbul Production Website
- Brazilian Production Website - São Paulo, Brasil
- Italian Production Website
- We Will Rock Q, Avenue Q's take on the Muppets' Bohemian Rhapsody
- Official website of Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, Avenue Q creators/composers/lyricists
- Official website of Rick Lyon, "Avenue Q" Puppet Designer/builder and original cast member
- Avenue Q at the Internet Broadway Database
- Licensing agent MTI's website
- Puppet Wikia: Avenue Q
- The Very Clever Theatre Official Site : Producers of the Royal Tunbridge Wells show
- Avenue Q at BroadwayWorld.com
- Avenue Q at MasterworksBroadway.com
Tony Award for Best Musical (2001–2025)
The Producers (2001) · Thoroughly Modern Millie (2002) · Hairspray (2003) · Avenue Q (2004) · Monty Python's Spamalot (2005) · Jersey Boys (2006) · Spring Awakening (2007) · In the Heights (2008) · Billy Elliot the Musical (2009) · Memphis (2010) · The Book of Mormon (2011)
Complete list · (1949–1975) · (1976–2000) · (2001–2025) Tony Award for Best Original Score (2001–2025)
The Producers by Mel Brooks (2001) · Urinetown by Mark Hollmann and Greg Kotis (2002) · Hairspray by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (2003) · Avenue Q by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx (2004) · The Light in the Piazza by Adam Guettel (2005) · The Drowsy Chaperone by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison (2006) · Spring Awakening by Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater (2007) · In the Heights by Lin-Manuel Miranda (2008) · Next to Normal by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey (2009) · Memphis by David Bryan and Joe DiPietro (2010) · The Book of Mormon by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone (2011)
Complete list · (1947–1975) · (1976–2000) · (2001–2025) Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical (2001–2025)
The Producers (2001) · Urinetown (2002) · Hairspray (2003) · Avenue Q (2004) · The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (2005) · The Drowsy Chaperone (2006) · Spring Awakening (2007) · Passing Strange (2008) · Billy Elliot the Musical (2009) · Memphis (2010) · The Book of Mormon (2011)
Complete list · (1950–1975) · (1976–2000) · (2001–2025)Categories:
- 2003 musicals
- Broadway musicals
- West End musicals
- Muppet parodies
- Off-Broadway musicals
- Original musicals
- Tony Award winning musicals
- LGBT-related musicals
- Fictional streets and roads
- Plays set in New York City
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