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Review: Avenue Q - The Musical, By Robert Lopez, Jeff Marx and Jeff Whitty, CBM Theatre, Spa Pavilion, May 18-20

PUBLISHED: 12:54 20 May 2017 | UPDATED: 12:54 20 May 2017

Avenue Q takes the safe world of The Muppets and Sesame Street and transplants it into a dilemma filled, very grown-up reality. But, they still have great songs! Picture: WILL DOWE

Avenue Q takes the safe world of The Muppets and Sesame Street and transplants it into a dilemma filled, very grown-up reality. But, they still have great songs! Picture: WILL DOWE

Copyright 2016. All Rights Reserved.

Take the loveable puppets from Sesame Street, throw them into adult life – and you’ll end up in the quirky, irreverent – and hilarious - world of Avenue Q.

Avenue Q takes the safe world of The Muppets and Sesame Street and transplants it into a dilemma filled, very grown-up reality. But, they still have great songs! Picture: WILL DOWEAvenue Q takes the safe world of The Muppets and Sesame Street and transplants it into a dilemma filled, very grown-up reality. But, they still have great songs! Picture: WILL DOWE

If those furry puppets taught us how to spell and be a caring young person, their equally cute pals who live on Avenue Q take us through the disappointments, frustrations and anxieties of adult life: relationships, work, money and prejudice.

These puppets enjoy energetic and varied sex, they get drunk, betray each other and worry about where their lives are heading. Don’t be fooled by the fur: this is not a show for children!

When it opened in 2003, Avenue Q won the Tony Awards ‘Triple Crown’ for Best Musical, Best Score, and Best Book, plus a coveted Grammy. Now this acclaimed show has arrived at The Spa Pavilion, Felixstowe.

Director Nathan Cant has assembled a multi-talented cast for this extremely strong production. The puppets are skilfully manipulated by actors Wade Ablitt, Natasha Staffieri, Cant himself (who has a voice that gloriously channels Frank Oz), Hayley Gavin and Betty Charlton. Their characters include a closeted gay banker, a Miss Piggy like sex-goddess called Lucy the Slut, a homely kindergarten assistant called Kate Monster, and our hero Princeton - a bright-eyed, unemployed English Lit graduate, played with endearing perkiness by Ablitt. Ashley Betts and Tasha Abbott play the human couple who happily interact with their furry neighbours.

Avenue Q takes the safe world of The Muppets and Sesame Street and transplants it into a dilemma filled, very grown-up reality. But, they still have great songs! Picture: WILL DOWEAvenue Q takes the safe world of The Muppets and Sesame Street and transplants it into a dilemma filled, very grown-up reality. But, they still have great songs! Picture: WILL DOWE

A series of cheery musical numbers teach us some important life lessons: Everyone’s a Little Bit Rascist, and The Internet is for Porn. Educational videos introducing the concept of a ‘purpose’ and a ‘one night stand’ are Sesame-Street perfect!

And just as we think we know where the show is heading, Lopez and Marx throw in an emotional ballad that is genuinely moving, There’s A Fine, Fine Line, sung superbly by Natasha Staffieri as the heartbroken Kate.

Having started from the premise that “life sucks”, the feel-good ending reassures us that “everyone’s a little bit unfulfilled”.You’ll leave the theatre singing the songs – just be careful where you sing them!

Helen Clarke

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