Farmers Alley’s Avenue Q – A Review
Performances for Farmers Alley's Avenue Q are selling out fast, and no wonder. As previously stated, this show is unlike anything you're going to see on your typical trip to the theatre. It's irreverent, raunchy, and side-splittingly funny. Be warned, however. Strong language is used, and your eyes will be assaulted by a gratuitous puppet sex scene. A hilariously executed gratuitous puppet sex scene. Featuring such memorable songs as "The Internet is for Porn," "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist," and "If You Were Gay," you are sure to be humming along for days to come.
Rarely do you see an ensemble of eight performers execute a show with such precision. For instance, Grand Rapids actor Stephen Anthony Grey, and local actor Brian Panse are in charge of operating a single puppet (Nicky) together; one is his right hand, the other his left, and the choreography they employ to navigate the stage is as graceful as anything you've ever seen. New York actors Harrison Bryan and Cat Greenfield are home with with their hands up a puppet's backside. Bryan's puppeteering acumen add the perfect touch of subtlety and nuance to this over-the-top show, while Greenfield's voice is, simply put, stunning. I'm reluctant to call the rest of the cast "supporting," as it's clear that each performer is an integral part of the production. From Samantha Slottow's Bad Idea Bear to Joriah Kwame's Gary Coleman, the casting could not have been better.
Avenue Q has it's risks. Too often it's done with a wink and a nod; an overt elbow nudge of "get it?" that can condescend to an audience. Other productions cross the line from bawdy to blue, and with a show that's written to go blue, direction like that can turn comedy to cringe in an instant. Neither of these is the case with this Farmers Alley production. The cast trusts the audience is smart enough to follow along and never tries to sell the joke.