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Welcome to Avenue Q—A Special Musical

Uma Mani ‘20

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The Peddie winter musical this year, Avenue Q, is a coming of age story that addresses the issues of adulthood through the voices of puppets.  The satirical comedy starkly contrasts with last year’s dramatic production of Les Miserables with a much smaller pit band and more straightforward story line.  After hours of daily rehearsals throughout winter term, the cast and crew of Avenue Q delivered three excellent performances to eager audiences this February 15th, 16th and 17th.

Imitating the format of Sesame Street, a selection of characters were played through puppets who interacted directly with the other cast members.  The actors handling the professionally made puppets were taught how to create gestures and to voice their characters realistically while drawing as little attention to themselves as possible.  

All of the characters in Avenue Q are young adults who face challenges in their professional and personal lives and are unsure of how to resolve their problems.  The musical is kept lighthearted with playful banter and “inappropriate” jokes exchanged in dialogue and musical numbers addressing themes including racism, pornography, homosexuality, and schadenfreude. Isaac Kwon ‘20 who viewed the final dress rehearsal of the musical reflected on this unique aspect. “Avenue Q managed to make what are normally untouchable subjects such as racism [and] lack of purpose… approachable through upbeat music and [relatable] humor,” said Kwon.  

The musical follows the story of a college graduate named Princeton, played by Derek Kost ’18, who has moved into a shabby apartment on Avenue Q to save money as he searches for a job, a girlfriend and his purpose in life.  Throughout this journey, he is influenced by the other people and monsters living in his neighborhood and, as a result of his struggles, gains a sense of perspective and learns important lessons about how to best lead his life. 

The small cast and crew worked closely with one another to make this unique show come alive.  Among those involved was Christina Liang’20, who has been involved in many theater productions at Peddie. “Avenue Q was definitely a very quirky, fun, and eye-opening piece… that portrays [the important] message of love and inclusivity,” said Liang.

Avenue Q introduced Liang to a new role. “Being assistant stage manager means we stay backstage in constant communication with the crew and pit, organize the props and costumes, and orchestrate scene transitions.  It’s both exciting and stressful – there’s a large leadership and responsibility aspect, but we also sit through every rehearsal with the cast and get to share the memories and watch out production unfold,” said Liang.

Pit Band Coordinator Alan Michaels mentioned that he “looked forward to observing how the Peddie community would react to Avenue Q, which is loaded with fun and entertainment on the surface, and, on a deeper level, confronts social issues pervasive in our society.”  Thrilled with the outcome, he commended Mrs. Sherman’s choices as director. “The end result was an example of the power that musical theater can have – to hold a mirror up to large numbers of people, to have individuals reflect on their own attitudes, and to do it all with a smile,” said Michaels.

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Welcome to Avenue Q—A Special Musical