Friday, January 18, 2008

Avenue Q (The SOB Revisit)

Avenue Q (The SOB Revisit) - State Theatre, Minneapolis, MN

*1/2 (out of ****)

When I first caught the fledgling little Avenue Q during the 2003-04 Theatrical Season with its original cast -- long before it was awarded the 2004 Tony for Best Musical -- I enjoyed its devious humor that tracked an ingenious parallel universe with television's "Sesame Street."

I vividly recall a fun time was had by all.

So why was it that when I saw the current touring production during its recent pass through Minneapolis, I felt like a square peg in a round hole. Have I just become that much older, or is the material not all its cracked up to be?

Snarky, juvenile, mean-spirited and too smart by half were some of the thoughts that came to mind during the performance. Not to mention that I sat and pondered, "Did this really win the Tony for Best Musical???"

Something with the touring production just didn't click for me, although it wasn't the fairly decent cast, consisting of, in part, Robert McClure (Princeton and Rod), Kelli Sawyer (Kate Monster, Lucy and others), David Benoit (Nicky, Trekkie Monster, Bear and others), Cole Porter (yes, seriously, as Brian) and Jennie Kwan (understudy for Christmas Eve). They at least gave it their all.

Maybe it just doesn't play well the second time around.

Or maybe it was the poor sightlines from my seat (I couldn't see one very significant portion of the stage from my first seat, and after shifting over, I got stuck behind the bobble-head from hell -- it sucks to be me).

Or maybe it was the fact that it was nowhere near as intimate as the Broadway version (at 805 seats, the John Golden Theatre ranks as one of Rialto's smaller venues. Meanwhile, Minneapolis' gorgeous State Theatre is downright gargantuan with over 2000 seats. Surely, this show must be seen in a much smaller venue to be truly appreciated).

Or maybe it was the incredibly obnoxious drunk women behind me (they were abhorently cavalier after they toppled over their sticky drinks, which in turn flowed directly under my feet -- it really sucks to be me).

Or maybe I was still harboring a bit of ill will toward the show for its unprecedented, all-out campaign effort to win the Tony.

Or maybe I could still recall how days after winning the Tony, the producers sold out to Steve Wynn and Vegas instead of touring, at least initially (it didn't last very long at the Wynn Resort's specially built 1200 seat theatre, maybe thanks to a little bit of well-earned "Schadenfreude").

Or it could just be that since first seeing the show years ago, I saw Dori Berinstein's insider look documentary "ShowBusiness: The Road To Broadway" in which Avenue Q was prominently featured (watching that, it struck me that although Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx were clearly having a great time writing the score, theirs was really the story of how two slackers lucked out. Their collaboration -- at least the portions shown in the documentary -- didn't inspire. Nor did it seem like the making of great art as they "labored" over rhyming simple words with each other).

Or it could be that I just am tired of mean-spirited, smug, politically-correct crass crap (masquerading, ironically as politically incorrect) that tries to be smart, but ends up feeling juvenile?

Or maybe I'm just too old.

No matter what it was, I just was no longer having much fun, perhaps with the exception of the still brilliant video sequences. In retrospect, I now have to concede that the London critics were right.

Well, whatever.

Alas, Avenue Q is still touring, as well as playing London's West End and Broadway.

For now.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Click here for Avenue Q Broadway tickets.
Click here for Avenue Q Tour tickets.
Related Stories:
Avenue Q Deal: I'll Drink To That! (December 1, 2007)
Dori Berinstein - The SOB Interview (November 7, 2007)
ShowBusiness: Year In The Life Of Broadway (October 16, 2007)
London's Avenue Q Reviews: Everyone's a Little Bit Low Road (June 29, 2006)
Avenue Q Settles Into West End Neighborhood Tonight (June 28, 2006)
Broadway's Gamble on Vegas No Sure Bet (June 6, 2006)
Ann Harada to Reprise Avenue Q Role in London (May 8, 2006)

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2 Comments:

At 20 January, 2008, Blogger Alicia said...

Alas, I think AVENUE Q will follow suit with RENT. Their box office grosses are down and I saw it (for the first time) a couple months ago and thought it was okay - but not GREAT. I attribute that to several factors but mostly the lack of energy and the missing element of surprise/shock that early attenders probably enjoyed. Even in its glory days (which weren't that long ago) I don't think I would have been as effusive as many were/are.

 
At 20 January, 2008, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Thanks for sharing Allcia - I'll be keeping my eye on its Broadway box office totals during the winter doldrums.

 

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