Highland Secondary School staff and students are eagerly preparing for their spring musical production of Avenue Q School Edition.
Avenue Q, which won the Tony Award “Triple Crown” for Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book, has never been performed in the Comox Valley.
The musical is not a typical, light-hearted, “gosh, life is cute” sort of show. Not only does it centre around puppets, but the themes and dialogue are mature, delving into topics that most musicals stay far away from.
Like another famous musical, Rent, the main characters are young people in the big city, coming of age by facing some of the challenges of growing up.
The original production of Avenue Q, if it had a rating, would have been an R-rated show. The school edition is less shocking and has been altered to suit teen-aged concerns and issues. “The school edition is more like a PG-13 movie. It is definitely not for little kids. But, I plan on taking my three elementary school-aged kids. I figure it will lead to some interesting discussions at the family dinner table,” says Tara Colborne, Highland’s Leadership class teacher.
The musical is also uproariously funny.
“Sometimes puppets speak to us better than people do. Puppets are so silly, but because they are so cute they can talk to an audience about serious topics, like finding life’s true purpose,” says Lisa Williams, Highland’s drama teacher and the director of Avenue Q.
“They don’t seem preachy. They seem real, and really funny, at the same time.”
Williams picked this musical because of its unique combination of giggly humour and important content. The central character of Avenue Q, Princeton, is a recent college graduate who has to move to the big city to find a job. He is dismayed to discover that his real-world options are limited, and everyone around him seems to be having trouble getting anywhere. Together, the Avenue Q characters blame their parents and Sesame Street for bringing them up with a false sense of self-esteem and belief that they could do anything. “At first glance, the show seems pretty light and fluffy, but despite the goofy and whimsical puppets there are a lot of big issues tackled, and as someone about to graduate, the show really hits home. I know that the real-world is going to be complicated,” says Jon Krugel, who plays Nicki. The Highland Secondary production of Avenue Q runs from March 5 to 9. All shows are at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are at Laughing Oyster Books in Courtenay or at Highland Secondary.
— Highland Secondary School