Special to the Record
Most of us have had to live in dodgy accommodations at one point in our lives.
It’s highly unlikely, though, that any of us ever spent any time on Avenue Q.
In a musical of the same name coming to the Sid Williams Theatre on Nov. 15, Jeremy Crittenden plays the lead role of Princeton.
He comes to New York City as a young man “looking for love, a job, and his purpose in life,” according to a press release. “The only neighbourhood he can afford is the multicultural Avenue Q, where Sesame Street-esque puppets rub shoulders with humans.”
Yes, Princeton is a puppet. All characters are puppets controlled by actors onstage.
“It’s a really, really demanding show because holding up a puppet for two hours is actually a lot harder than it sounds,” Crittenden said in a phone interview.
“Princeton’s a lot of fun to play,” he continued. “I see a lot of myself in that character … I love doing this show … It sounds corny but I feel so grateful to be able to do this show. It’s been my dream show for years.”
Doing a musical, even without handling puppets, is a handful, admits Kayla Dunbar, one of the other six actors coming to the Comox Valley.
“This show is especially challenging because, like Jeremy said, we have to hold up puppets for two hours plus sing and dance.”
That could get a person talking to herself.
“There are a couple of scenes in the show where I actually talk to myself as two different characters on stage,” she explained.
Crittenden doesn’t think the Sid audience will have trouble accepting the actors and puppets on stage together.
“It’s the kind of experience you could only have in live theatre,” he said. “You see the puppet, you see the puppeteer, you know who’s talking, you know who’s controlling it, but you absolutely accept it and you end up watching the puppet for the entire show.
“There’s something really magical about it,” he stated. “You can’t do that on television. You can’t do it in a movie theatre. It can only happen with live people in front of you that that magic exists. They just vanish even though they’re right there in front of you.”
Described as irreverently witty and outright uproarious, Avenue Q “contains full puppet nudity and other vulgarities that will induce laughter,” cautions promotional material.
This is not a puppet show for young children.
“There’s some swearing in the show. There’s definitely some sexuality in the show,” confessed Crittenden. “But it’s nothing people don’t say or do in their own lives.
“It’s really honest. It’s brutally honest.”
Crittenden offered some advice.
“I wouldn’t bring your six-year-old to it. But if you have a 16-year-old, you will be the coolest parent ever for bringing your kid to see Avenue Q. I think you guys will have an amazing time together.”
A production by the Arts Club Theatre Company of Vancouver, Avenue Q has received good reviews.
“What a show. The guy beside me almost fell out of his seat laughing.” — The Vancouver Courier.
The Sid Williams Theatre will present Avenue Q on Nov. 15, as part of the Blue Circle Series. For more information about the show, visit sidwilliamstheatre.com or phone 250-338-2430.
Mark Allan is a freelance writer and former editor of the Comox Valley Record.