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New Theatre, Oxford

I found this production of Avenue Q quite delightful from the moment it started. Yes, it is a kind of Muppet Show for grown ups! Yes, the script is a ridiculous pastiche of farce, satire, childishness and occasional touching- if cliché-insights about the Human Condition. But it works.

Captivating, tuneful and utterly charming, I would say that it succeeds because of the very clever production as much as because of the concept. It also succeeds because of a superb company that are energetic, responsive to each other, and full of talent. They can sing and dance and mime and deliver the most outrageous lines with total sincerity; and many of them are doing it while also skilfully manipulating the puppets!

Everyone says that it is extraordinary how you focus on the puppets and not on the puppeteers; but personally I found myself focusing on both and being particularly impressed by the movement, acting and sheer delight being taken by the human beings on stage– particularly by Tom Steedon, Jessica Parker Lucie-Mae Sumner, though I feel terrible singling anyone out when they are all so good and nimble. Ellena Vincent was great fun as Gary Coleman.

Cleverly directed by Cresside Carré and with a memorable set by Richard Evans, the puppet makers and costumers must be given high praise for their essential contributions. If you liked Spamalot, the Muppet Show or Monty Python, the energy and the style of humour will appeal to you. If not, you may be bored. It is a show to appeal to your inner juvenile. But if you want to give that inner kid an outing, this is a very appealing way to do it.

  • Musical
  • Book by Jeff Whitty, based on an original concept by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx
  • Directed by Cressida Carré
  • Music and Lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx
  • Cast includes: Stephen Arden, Jessica Parker, Tom Steedon, Lucie Mae Sumner, Ellena Vincent
  • New Theatre, Oxford
  • Until 16th August 2014 (On Tour)
  • Review by Mel Cooper
  • 15th August 2104

About The Author

Reviewer (UK)

Canadian-born Mel Cooper first came to the UK to study English Literature at Oxford University and stayed. He was captivated by the culture and history of Britain, which he found to be a welcoming and tolerant country. After working in highly illustrated, non-fiction publishing for over a decade, he founded and edited the magazine Opera Now. Since then he has worked as a consultant to the Japanese broadcaster NHK, a broadcaster on British Satellite Broadcasting, a maker of audio shows and arts critic for several airlines, and as one of the team that started Britain’s first commercial classical music radio station, Classic FM, on which he was both a classical music DJ and creator and presenter of shows like Classic America and Authentic Performance. Throughout this period, he also lectured in music and literature in London and Oxford and published short stories in Canada. After working with the Genesis Foundation on helping to fund arts projects, he continues to write, review and lecture on music and literature. His first novel has just been published as an e-book. The title is City of Dreams. It is the first volume of a projected saga called The Dream Bearers. You can find the Kindle version of the book on Amazon.

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