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Avenue Q

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Puppets on racks during rehearsals for the National Tour of Avenue Q.

Avenue Q is a Tony-award winning musical created by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, who wrote the music and lyrics. The show was produced by and opened at the Vineyard Theatre in 2003, an Off-Broadway producing house, and was directed by Jason Moore. Following its critically acclaimed and sold-out run at the Vineyard, the commercial producers of the show transferred it to Broadway's John Golden Theatre. It ran for nearly six years and 2,534 performances on Broadway, and at the time of its closing, was the 20th longest running show in Broadway history. The show is currently playing off-Broadway at New World Stages, and a non-Equity national tour continues to perform across the United States.

The libretto, or book, for Avenue Q was written by Jeff Whitty, who won a Tony Award for Best Book for a Musical for his work on Avenue Q. All of the puppets in the musical were created by Rick Lyon. Some of the characters in the musical are based on popular Sesame Street characters such as Bert, Ernie, and Cookie Monster. There is a book about the show, Avenue Q: The Book.

Plot

Setting

A fictional street in an "outer-outer borough" of New York City.

Act One

Princeton, a recent college graduate, is anxious to discover his purpose in life; but first, he must find an apartment and a job, with no work experience and an English degree. ("What Do You Do with a B.A. in English?") Beginning at Avenue A, he finally finds an affordable apartment on Avenue Q. His new neighbors are Kate Monster, a kindergarten teaching assistant; Rod, an anal-retentive Republican Wall Street investment banker, and Nicky, his slacker roommate; Brian, an aspiring comedian recently laid off from his day job at a local catering company; Christmas Eve, Brian's Japanese fiancée and a therapist with no clients; Trekkie Monster, a surly recluse who surfs the Internet all day in search of porn; and Gary Coleman, the child star turned building superintendent. Arguments ensue over whose life sucks the most. ("It Sucks to Be Me")

Nicky, who is straight, suspects Rod is gay, and assures Rod it is fine with him if he is; but Rod insists he is not. ("If You Were Gay")

Princeton finds a lucky penny and starts searching for his purpose in life ("Purpose"). Kate dreams of starting a "Monstersori" school for young "people of fur." Princeton innocently asks Kate if she and Trekkie are related, since they are both monsters. Kate, surprised, says that assumption is racist. Princeton, taken aback, counters that Kate's Monstersori School would discriminate against non-monsters. They and the neighbors agree that racism is an adult reality. (“Everyone's a Little Bit Racist”)

Princeton receives money from his parents, and The Bad Idea Bears, two charming troublemakers, convince him to spend it entirely on beer. Kate's boss, Mrs. Lividia Thistletwat, assigns Kate to teach the next morning's kindergarten class, her first solo teaching opportunity, while she is getting a heart surgery done. Excited, she decides her lesson will be about the Internet, and all its educational attributes, but Trekkie Monster explains another reality of adulthood: most adults (men, anyway) use it for pornography. ("The Internet is for Porn")

Later, Princeton gives Kate a mixtape. His song selections are puzzling (a few Disney songs and a Muppet song are present), making her wonder what message he is trying to send, but eventually she decides that he likes her ("Mixtape"). Sure enough, he invites her on a date to the Around the Clock Café. Brian, the café's MC, does his raunchy standup act ("I'm Not Wearing Underwear Today"), then introduces Lucy the Slut, a skanky but gorgeous chanteuse who wows the guys, especially Princeton, with a seductive cabaret number ("Special"). The Bad Idea Bears suggest that Kate and Princeton order some "harmless" Long Island Iced Teas, and, once Kate is totally inebriated, that Princeton take her to bed.

Kate and Princeton have enthusiastic, high-decibel sex in Princeton's apartment. Gary fields angry calls from other tenants demanding silence, but refuses to intercede. ("You Can Be as Loud as the Hell You Want When You're Makin' Love") Rod hears Nicky say, "I love you, Rod," in his sleep, and is jubilant, but eventually realizes it was he who was dreaming. Meanwhile, Kate and Princeton profess their mutual love, and Princeton gives Kate his lucky penny. ("Fantasies Come True")

The next morning, a hung-over Kate misses her teaching assignment. Mrs. Thistletwat berates her and states that since she left the children "unattended to for three hours" they created their own tribal society and were about to sacrifice a student. Incensed, Kate angrily quits her job before she can be fired. Christmas Eve decides unilaterally that it is time she and Brian were married. At the wedding, Nicky speculates that Rod is gay when the adults ask if he is. Rod, furious, insists he has a girlfriend named Alberta in Vancouver, ("My Girlfriend Who Lives in Canada") and throws Nicky out of their apartment for his treachery.

Princeton confesses a fear of commitment. When Kate catches Christmas Eve's wedding bouquet, he panics and asks if they can just be friends. Kate retorts that she has plenty of friends, and angrily leaves. ("There's a Fine, Fine Line")

Act Two

A despondent Princeton has been holed up in his apartment for two weeks after breaking up with Kate, but is coaxed out by the neighbors. ("There is Life Outside Your Apartment") Lucy is looking for a place to crash and seduces the rebounding Princeton. Kate is angry, but Christmas Eve explains that her anger means she loves Princeton. ("The More You Ruv Someone") Kate writes a note to Princeton suggesting that they rendezvous at the Empire State Building, and leaves it with Lucy, who destroys it.

A homeless Nicky laments his fate to Gary, who confesses that he is deriving pleasure from Nicky's misfortune ("Schadenfreude").

On the Empire State Building's viewing platform, Kate, thinking that Princeton has stood her up, throws his lucky penny away. A hundred stories below, Lucy, walking by on 5th Avenue, is knocked unconscious by the penny.

Kate and Princeton unsuccessfully attempt to work out their problems over Lucy's comatose body. Rod is too proud to accept Nicky’s repeated apologies, despite clearly missing him, and tearfully consults with Christmas Eve. Princeton, Kate, and Nicky dream of returning to happier times ("I Wish I Could Go Back to College").

Princeton gives a still-homeless, panhandling Nicky a quarter, and marvels at how fantastic he feels. Since thinking only about himself has gotten him nowhere, he decides to raise money to build Kate's Monstersori School. He solicits everyone, even breaking the fourth wall to shake down the audience, ("The Money Song") with disappointing results; but Trekkie Monster, recalling his own traumatic school experience, donates ten million dollars, explaining to the astonished cast, "In volatile market, only stable investment is porn!" ("School for Monsters/The Money Song (Reprise)")

Kate joyfully opens her new school. Brian lands a consulting job and Christmas Eve finally has a paying client (Rod), so the newlyweds move to a better neighborhood. Rod finally comes out, to no one's particular surprise, and takes Nicky back in. Nicky finds Rod a boyfriend, Ricky, a muscle-bound hunk who looks and sounds exactly like Nicky. The Bad Idea Bears discover Scientology. Lucy, recovered from her head injury, becomes a born-again Christain and takes a vow of chastity. Kate and Princeton agree to give their relationship another go ("There's a Fine, Fine Line (Reprise)").

A new college graduate inquires about the vacancy in the building, ("What Do You Do with a BA in English (Reprise)") and Princeton has an epiphany: maybe his purpose is to pass on everything he has learned about real life in a Broadway musical. Everybody, especially the new guy, immediately ridicules him and Brian asks Princeton if he got high. The cast reminds Princeton that in the real world many people never find their purpose; but life goes on, and everything, both good and bad, is "only for now." ("For Now")

See also

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