Sunday, September 16, 2007

Avenue Q at the Ahmanson

We took the plunge this year and bought season tickets to the Ahmanson Theatre. Last night we saw Avenue Q, the first show in the series.

We had previously seen this musical on Broadway at the end of 2004. Both productions were wonderful but the experiences were very different. When seeing it for the first time, I recall laughing so often and so hard that I missed chunks of the storyline. This time I laughed less but was able to appreciate the richness of the multi-layered messages.

Somewhere I read, perhaps in the playbill, that some messages can be delivered through the puppets that would draw outrage if they came directly from humans rather than the characters they brought to life. This was most evident in the song Everyone's A Little Bit Racist. (Actually, this was a message I tried to deliver in college classrooms when I was teaching only to have many of the most prejudiced students deny that they ever had any racist thoughts. Obviously, they could not deal with an issue when they were in self-denial about their own attitudes and feelings.)

There are truly many lessons to be learned from this production. But the theatergoer must have an open mind and not be easily offended by the use of some raw language and on-stage puppet behavior. After all, this musical only takes on finding purpose in life, low self-esteem, racism, homophobia, internet porn, relationships and a few other themes. And it is all done with sensitivity, wonderful humor and more than a little "tounge-in-cheek!"

All in all, it was a great night of theatre although I am sure that if I ever see Avenue Q again, I will find a lot of things I missed the first 2 times around.

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