Engaging, enjoyable, energetic and fun. That pretty much describes “Avenue Q: School Edition.” A Youth Works production presented by Peoria’s Theater Works, the play is directed by Chris Hamby, musically directed by Ken Goodenberger, and choreographed by Paul Pederson. At the performance Sunday, Feb. 17, the audience members—who were young, old and everything in between—seemed to agree.
You wouldn’t think a play that takes on such issues as racism, being gay, unemployment, homelessness, helping others, and finding purpose in life could be fun, but it is.
Even when the cast sings that everyone is racist, “including you” and each cast member points directly at someone in the audience.
Even when the characters decide helping others is a good thing, and they not only pass the hat among themselves but come out into the audience to collect. At the Sunday performance, the haul wasn’t too great—“except for Mike Lawler’s keys.” Lawler is currently starring in another Theater Works Production, “Burning in the Night: A Hobo’s Song,” and he just happened to be in the audience.
What makes everything fun even where there’s a more serious underlying message? Song, dance, puppetry and lots of laughter. And then there are those appealing characters.
There’s Princeton, a recent college graduate who moves to Avenue Q in New York City and searches for his purpose in life.
There’s Kate Monster, who reveals to Princeton her desire to open a school for monsters. Through the help of the others, in the end she gets her Monstersorri School.
There’s Christmas Eve, a lovely Japanese woman who wants to have a counseling career, but whose clients all leave after an hour and never come back.
There’s Trekkie Monster, who apparently has antisocial personality disorder. All of his friends are online.
And lots more. Here is a complete list of the talented performers and the characters they play:
Marshall Scott: Princeton
Camille Gribbons: Kate Monster
Joey Cavazos: Trekkie Monster
Trey DeGroot: Nicky
Joey Iannitelli: Rod
Hahnna Christianson: Lucy
Erik Wilson: Boy Bad Idea Bear
Jenna Moses: Girl Bad Idea Bear
Taylor Lawritson: Mrs. Butz
Thomas Graca: Newcomer
Connor Sample: Brian
Sydnie Greger: Christmas Eve
Jenelle Angel: Gary Coleman
Hannah Biesmeyer: Ensemble
Marley DeGroot: Ensemble
Brittany Kaminsky: Ensemble
Maggie NcNeil: Ensemble
Trinity Proulx: Ensemble
Shelbie Reames: Ensemble
Kelsi Thomas: Ensemble
Andrea Williams: Ensemble
“Avenue Q: School Edition” is a PG-13 edition of the “Avenue Q: The Musical,” which opened on Broadway in 2003. The play continues through Sunday, Feb. 24, at the Peoria Center for the Performing Arts, 8355 W. Peoria Ave. in Peoria, Ariz. Order tickets online or by calling the box office at (623) 815-7930.
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