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Avenue Q

Remember the wholesome, feel-good warmth of “Sesame Street”? This isn’t it. Sure “Avenue Q” has puppets, but they’re more the racist and Internet porn loving type, jaded and yet eternally optimistic about life’s promises. It’s like the “Sesame Street” and “Muppets” characters have grown up, and life hasn’t been kind.

Although the adults-only, subversive and candidly honest puppetry may not initially sound appealing, consider this: “Avenue Q” won the best musical Tony award in 2004 in a huge upset over “Wicked,” and it also won for best book and best original score by Hollywood, Fla., native Jeff Marx.

At the center of the story is Princeton, a recent college grad who comes to New York City with big dreams and little money. The only neighborhood he can afford is the fictional Avenue Q, but his neighbors (Kate Monster, roommates Nicky and Rod, Trekkie Monster and others) are supportive. Human characters include the struggling stand-up comedian Brian, his fiancée’ Christmas Eve, and the building super, Gary Coleman (played by the former child star on Broadway, and by a woman in this production). 

You can judge for yourself if “Avenue Q” is better than “Wicked” when you catch it on tour. In the meantime, the production’s original Broadway director, Jason Moore, tells us “moore” about the show.

Has anyone from “Sesame Street” or “The Muppets” yelled at you for ruining the innocence of puppets?

[Laughs] Just the opposite, actually. A lot of our original puppeteers were from “Sesame Street,” so they were in on it the entire time. And early in the Broadway run Jim Henson’s widow saw the show and gave us her blessing.

The Trekkie (re: Cookie) Monster singing “The Internet is for Porn” sounds like it’s worth the price of admission alone. What’s your favorite song?

Either “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist” or “The Internet is for Porn.” “Racist” is at the heart of what the show is about – speaking truths that have resonance but would be difficult to hear coming out of a human’s mouth.

Do your puppets put the headgear marionettes in “The Lion King” to shame?

Ours really are better. The puppets in our show lip sync and move their eyes, mouth and head. The ones in “The Lion King” were just there.

Some of yours are naked, too, which has to be a first.

I think it is, actually. A first for full frontal puppets, that’s for sure.

It was quite an upset when “Avenue Q” won the Tony award over “Wicked.” Do you have any doubt that your show is better?

It’s still amazing. It’s nice when you’re the David to Wicked’s Goliath, and it’s good for musical theatre when there are a few shows that can occupy the top spot.

Did you feel robbed when you didn’t win the best director Tony?

Yeah, I cry myself to sleep every night looking at the empty space on my shelf. But seriously, it was my first nomination and it came early in my career, so I consider myself lucky.

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