Puppets have played an integral part of my upbringing. The Muppet Show, Sesame Street, and the best movie of all time, Labyrinth were just a few of the examples of how puppets shaped my life. While some remember where they were when they heard Kurt Cobain had died, I remember hearing of Jim Henson’s passing like it was yesterday. I saw a lot of myself in Kermit, I wanted to play the piano like Rolf, I felt for Snuffleupagus, I thought Oscar was totally misunderstood, I had a crush on Ludo. You get the point. I take my puppets very seriously. So, when I go see a show with puppets, I have an image in my mind of how they should behave and what it should be like.
Avenue Q takes these images and expectations and pretty much pees on them. It doesn’t take more than a verse of a song to realize that these puppets are fucked up. And I love it. A talented, hardworking, great sounding, multitasking, hilarious, definitely R rated ensemble of actors (and musicians) gave Saturday’s opening night sold out (and then some) crowd a fantastically entertaining performance of a show that should have won Tony Awards…oh wait, it did. In fact it won three.
This is a perfect show for this intimate space and it was great to see a diverse crowd laughing together, spontaneously applauding together, gasping at the naughty bits together and thoroughly being entertained. So once again puppets are educational and indeed, unifying. No matter their baggage or the baggage of the audience these puppets (and puppeteers) are worth a visit to San Jose.
Eat your heart out Pinocchio, Avenue Q earns 4 ½ jewels in the tiara out of 5 and plays at San Jose Stage through July 3rd.