Updated: Sep 28, 2019
At the time it first opened having an adult puppet show was highly original and it received high critical acclaim along with several award nominations, including best new musical. So did it deserve all this praise? In short, yes.
It's a simple enough story. Princeton moves to New York on Avenue Q (as its the only place he can afford) having graduated with a BA in English and trying to figure what he can do with such a useless degree. While there he meets a slew of colourful individuals, figuratively and literally, who in their way shape his life and outlook, with a pseudo love story thrown in for good measure.
It's amazing how the puppets alone are funny, with a hand gesture having the ability to be hilarious. And credit has to be given to the cast who take on these roles as mastering the puppetry is a difficult task not normally required in musical theatre. What I've noticed is after a while you stop watching the puppets and focus on the actors who still need to embody the characters just as much, if not more, than if the puppets weren't there. It's the pain on the actress's face that makes you feel for her when a heartbroken Kate Monster sings "There's a Fine, Fine Line" rather than the puppet. I've always been impressed with how the cast have you focus on them or the puppet at the rights times.
The comedy comes through the script, the puppets and direction. I'd thought I'd seen as far as puppet sex could go in Team America, this show proved that wrong. There are a couple of lines that post #MeToo are likely to miss the mark although the script may have been updated based on that. However, there is generally little wrong with it and you won't be disappointed, as long as you don't get offended easily given the writers willingness to lampoon everybody. Most people will already know some of the songs but seeing live versions of "Everyone's a little bit racist" and "The Internet is for porn" is a treat. It would be easy to try and wax lyrical about how they are trying to make social statement but I think they're just trying to be funny and they're very successful at that.
I also find the characters surprisingly relatable. Having moved cities a few times myself the experiences and stories felt realistic.
The one thing that is slightly disappointing is that the set is basically two dimensional which confines a lot of the action though they work as they can within these confines.
Most productions of this would get 4 Laura Michelle-Kelly's. It's not surprising then that it tours the UK most years and has just started (Jan 2019) a new UK tour which I hope to get to see. For tickets go here you won't want to miss it: http://avenuequk.com/tour-dates