Puppet stock is apparently on the up and up. The Muppets’ big screen comeback may be currently dominating the global puppet conversation, but Jim Hensen’s inventions aren’t the only faux fur creatures in the spotlight. Being Elmo, a documentary about the man behind Sesame Street’s breakout star, is an art house darling. And locally, Denver’s Vintage Theatre is staging Avenue Q, the Tony Award-hoarding Broadway musical.
What if Bert came out of the closet? Rod, Avenue Q’s version of Bert, does after some serious prodding by guy roomie Nicky, not to mention the broken “Engrish” therapy of neighbor Christmas Eve. Homosexuality isn’t the only adult theme Avenue Q addresses head on either. Racism, porn, homelessness and religion are all touched on in the two-hour plus production. Anyone who’s ever seen Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s Team America knows the immense comedic potential of puppet sex scenes. Avenue Q features a dizzying doozy. Speaking of Parker and Stone, the pair behind South Park penned Broadway’s newest smash Book of Mormon with Avenue Q co-author Robert Lopez.
Avenue Q’s script is so airtight, it would be tough to botch. Still, the Vintage cast is superb. Not having seen the Broadway rendition, I don’t really have a frame of reference, but it doesn’t matter. Who knew we had such talented puppeteers in our own Mile High backyard? Kindergarten student teacher Carolyn Lohr deserves specific mention for voicing both female lead Kate Monster and street walker Lucy the Slut. Whoever played Nicky’s right arm is entitled to a shout out too. That green felt appendage would be nothing without your fist jammed deep inside of it.
In the words of Avenue Q resident pervert Trekkie Monster: “In volatile market, only stable investment is porn.” Puppet porn apparently qualifies.
P.S. Curiously, I’d originally intended to catch the show a week ago, but got booked for a Cookie Monster singing telegram instead.
George Peele enjoys strapping on height enhancers and aurally ambushing strangers. He is Music Features Editor for 303’s print edition. Keep your eyes peeled for December interviews with dance music twosome Manufactured Superstars and Times Square NYE guru Dante Dunlap. Avatar image courtesy Jonathan Shoup.