ShowBizRadio

Theatre Information

Milburn Stone Theatre Avenue Q

By • Oct 29th, 2012 • Category: Maryland, Reviews
Avenue Q
Milburn Stone Theatre
Milburn Stone Theatre, North East, Md
Through November 4th
2:30 with intermission
$18/$15 Seniors, Students
Reviewed October 26th, 2012

Wouldn’t it be nice if they made Sesame Street for grown-ups and used lovable puppets to teach us about careers, relationships, sex, sexuality, paying our bills, and finding our purpose after college graduation? They have, and, even better than that, it is filled with catchy, educational songs like “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist” and “The Internet is Porn.” If you need guidance…it would probably be taking it too far to seriously consult this show. However, if you need an evening of great laughter and just a little bit of thinking about what it means to be a grown-up, then Milburn Stone Theatre’s production of Avenue Q is exactly the perfect fit.

Milburn Stone does a really nice job of bringing this show to the local stage, keeping it high energy and fun, and even packing in a few fantastic performances. Despite a few issues with the blend of the sound, it was overall a top-notch production from the set to the lighting to most of the performances to the orchestra to the choreography and staging. Director S. Lee Lewis did a great job of staying true to the show and also adding in a few new gags of his own to keep the audience laughing.

The neatest thing about seeing this show on Broadway was that the actors behind the puppets completely disappeared. You never looked at them or noticed them. They allowed the puppets to come alive and take over. Matt Dickinson (Princeton) and Jamie Mikijanic (Nicky) both mastered that art as well as any professional. They were able to make some strong characters with voice and emphasis alone, while not acting with their faces and bodies. Great vocals, great delivery, and amazing puppeteering were a hallmark of both performances. This allowed Princeton and Nicky to come fully to life as puppets. Unfortunately, Brandon Gorin, who helped serve as a puppeteer for Nicky was sometimes distracting with his facial and body reactions. It is rare that an expressive face and body is a negative on stage, but, in this case, keeping it all in the voice gives the puppet life.

Tim Koob (Rod) and Serenity Rowland (Kate Monster) did occasionally upstage their puppets, but they were both so very, very good that you just didn’t care. They were warm and fun and funny with beautiful voices. Rowland’s heart and vocals were so huge that there was enough for both her and Kate Monster, and Koob’s comedic precision had you watching both him and the puppet with equal glee. While it might have been a little better if the puppets alone had portrayed the characters, they still both did very nice jobs.

There were a ton of other great performances as well. Kristin Sheehan (Christmas Eve) killed with her vocals on “The More You Ruv Someone” and was just loveable and funny throughout. Ryan Wagner (Brian) was low-key and likeable and had a few moments of just impeccable timing. Kashana Roberts (Gary Coleman) was adorable and energy-filled with great vocals. Dane Hutchinson (Trekkie Monster) had a great voice for his character. Terrie Goins (Bad Idea Bear) had a few really priceless moments.

The only major misstep in casting and performance was the decision to have Lucy T. Slut played by a separate actress, when Rowland was just so very good. Emily Jewett (Lucy T. Slut/Mrs. Thistletwat), on the other hand, carried her puppet as a prop. She didn’t just upstage the puppet; she didn’t use the puppet. Sometimes, the mouth did not even move. It often moved wrong, and Jewett focused on acting with her body. Not just acting, mostly overacting. Her vocals were also way over-the-top and often off-pitch. It was a shame to see such a good bit wasted.

Lucy aside, the show is by far worth seeing. The other performances are so wonderful, and the show is such a fun and funny good time. Just don’t let the puppets fool you; Avenue Q is definitely not appropriate for younger audiences. There is language, sexual conversations, and even puppet sex.

Cast:

  • Princeton: Matt Dickinson
  • Kate Monster: Serenity Rowland
  • Brian: Ryan Wagner
  • Christmas Eve: Kristin Sheehan
  • Rod: Tim Koob
  • Nicky: Jamie Mikijanic
  • Gary Coleman: Kashana Roberts
  • Trekkie Monster: Dane Hutchinson
  • Lucy T. Slut/Mrs. Thistletwat: Emily Jewett
  • Bad Idea Bears: Terrie Goins, Brandon Gorin
  • Ensemble: Kenyatta Carter, Emily Cuifetelli, Amy Vitalo

Production Team

  • Director/Designer: S. Lee Lewis
  • Music Director: Anthony Vitalo
  • Choreographer: Dominic Santos
  • Stage Manager: Lauren Hope Gates

Disclaimer: Milburn Stone Theatre provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

This article can be linked to as: http://showbizradio.com/go/8876.

Comments are closed.