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19 March 2014

‘Avenue Q’ comes to you

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During the final rehearsals for QuantUM’s upcoming show “Avenue Q,” a racy satire that mixes live actors and puppets, students performed song and dance numbers while operating colorful, toddler-sized puppets. Even offstage, cast members gestured and laughed, puppets still in hand, as though they were a part of the conversation.

The actors didn’t always operate their furry friends with such ease. In fact, students auditioned without the puppets and only began working with them once rehearsals were underway, using puppets they obtained from the company that owns “Avenue Q.”

“It’s hilarious right now because [the student puppeteers] have no idea how to use them yet,” Stage Manager Megan Stephens said during an early rehearsal. “They move the puppet’s mouth when they’re not talking and shut it while they sing.”

QuantUM has chosen to adapt the hit Broadway musical, which is about a recent college graduate who moves into a shabby New York apartment on Avenue Q, for their spring show. It is set to premiere March 27 and run until March 30.

Though for many the thought of puppets brings up images of children’s shows like Sesame Street, this play deals with issues relevant to young adults such as life after graduation, jobs, relationships, sexuality and racism.

QuantUM leaders say they have been looking to do “Avenue Q” for a while now and are excited that it is finally becoming a reality.

“Last semester we settled on ‘Avenue Q’ because we wanted to do a lighter show after the emotionally heavy play ‘Spring Awakening’ that we did last semester,” said Alli Sheahan, the organization’s chair.

QuantUM members had the chance to put their own mark on the “Avenue Q” story, as the play is entirely put together by students.

“There’s a lot more freedom to do things how we want,” Stephens said. “And a lot more chaos.”

The show is irreverent and silly, with crazy song titles that range from “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist” to “The Internet is for Porn.” Yet these songs, along with the puppets, add to the show’s satirical treatment of life in the “real world.”

All the actors were enthusiastic about their experiences as a part of the cast.

“My favorite part of theater is the adrenaline rush you get once you perform in front of an audience and the pleasure to know that your hard work helped make someone laugh, cry or applaud,” said freshman Ian Silverman, who is playing Princeton in the show. “It’s a special feeling that isn’t caused by many things.”

Sheahan said the puppets will bring a fresh perspective to the stage.

“The puppets add a whole new element of acting because you can’t just focus on what you’re doing,” she said. “You have to focus on what your hand operating the puppet is doing.”

 

“Avenue Q”

Who: QuantUM

Where: Hillel Auditorium

When: 8p.m. March 27, 11 p.m. March 29 and 8 p.m. March 30.

Cost: Free