Last weekend I went legit, catching Avenue Q at the Wynn Las Vegas before it ends its run May 31. (The musical was to remain here indefinitely, according to the original plan. But soon it gets replaced rather than joined by Monty Python's Spamalot.) While bringing Broadway to Las Vegas hasn't been an immediate success, I still think it's a good idea. And it's catching on: Mamma Mia! is in residence at Mandalay Bay, Hairspray does a stint at the Luxor, and The Phantom of the Opera comes soon to the Venetian.
Hey, Princeton, I'm still trying to figure it out. Like me, Princeton has a B.A. in English and no clear purpose. Priced out of living on the streets earlier in the alphabet, he rents a place on Avenue Q with a mixed cast of puppets and humans. They learn lessons about life through ridiculously inappropriate songs, and all is well.
Like Sesame Street, the stage action is interrupted by interludes of animated text. (I'd actually wished they'd made more visual aids; those were hysterical.) There's also an obvious tribute to Bert and Ernie with puppet roommates Rod and Mickey. Rod is both Republican and closeted homosexual.
Unlike Sesame Street, the colorful puppets are held at eye level by puppeteers who remain in plain view. This is actually one of the production's low budget charms: we see the puppeteers act along as they voice their characters, rather than shield their expressions like ventriloquists.
Expecting a much raunchier production, I was pleased that the musical didn't spend too much time trying to shock and offend. True, much of the song lyrics are racy, but the overall experience is upbeat and positive. Really, it's neither highbrow nor lowbrow, but at the same time not the most accessible of Broadway's offerings to a Las Vegas crowd.
Now free of its exclusive commitment, Avenue Q will tour the rest of North America. You'd be wise to attend.