Avenue Q

Robert Lopez and Jeff Whitty’s Avenue Q is brought to the Fringe by the Edinburgh University Savoy Opera Group, to sell-out audiences. The hit puppet musical, featuring characters such as Lucy the Slut and Mrs Thistletwat, tells the story of recent-graduate Princeton’s struggle in the “real world”. Covering themes concerning all members of society: race, sexuality and employment, Avenue Q throws a good dash of (often extremely rude) humour together with a kind heart to create the 2004 Tony Award winner for Best Musical.

There is a fantastic standard of skill shown here by all involved and the performance is professional throughout.

EUSOG have chosen to use an unconventional, projected backdrop with individual window boxes wheeled onstage at occasional points in the narrative. This allows the company to use the whole performance space with far greater ease than the standard “puppet show” set used in other productions. I was first a little dubious but the beautiful animation proved my doubts wrong. It was also an interesting touch for the cast to move onto the raked seating area at certain points, raising laughs from the audience and showing off their considerable puppetry technique.

With a musical like Avenue Q there is always a worry that the puppetry might not be up to scratch; or worse, the puppets could be a bit naff. For your reference: http://badavenueqpuppets.tumblr.com. Thankfully, the puppetry and the quality of the puppets in this production were both exceptionally good. Craig Methven (Trekkie Monster) and Lori Flannigan (Kate Monster) had particularly impressive command of the puppets, as did most of the cast. A few puppets glide along the stage without a hint of a bob as well a few heads that flip back as characters “speak” but this does not reduce the enjoyability of the piece and for an amateur production, it is extremely impressive.

Each performer is a respectable singer and solo numbers are performed well. Praise must be given to the female cast members whose voices are all exceptional, although the male cast’s vocals match their characters perfectly. Chorus numbers are particularly impressive and often give me goosebumps, with especially strong harmonies in The Money Song and I Wish I Could Go Back to College. The live band perfectly complement the vocals and make a lovely change to the backing tracks we are used to hearing at Fringe performances.Acting and comic timing are also excellent, showing the team to be a very well-rounded bunch.

There is a fantastic standard of skill shown here by all involved and the performance is professional throughout. It’s just a shame that the show has such a short run at the Fringe.

Reviews by Emily Dunford

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The Blurb

Following last year’s award-winning Fringe production You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, EUSOG returns with the outrageous comedy blockbuster Avenue Q. With a selection of naughty puppets negotiating matters of sex, racism and coming out of the closet, this simultaneously cute but crude musical follows a bunch of helpless misfits, part-flesh, part-felt, in the quest to find their purpose in life. A vibrant, feel-good Tony award-winning musical which will leave you with a fuzzy feeling in your heart.

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