Theater Review: Avenue Q

The local production of the Tony Award winning musical Avenue Q deserves a rave review. It does.

avenue q 88 224 (photo credit: Maxim Reider)
avenue q 88 224
(photo credit: Maxim Reider)
Avenue Q Directed by Moshe Kaptan Keren Or and Bimot Productions Beit Lessin October 28 The local production of the Tony Award winning (2004) musical Avenue Q deserves a rave review. It does. It has charm, verve, invention, smarts, puppet characters to die for, winsome and eager young actors manipulating them, catchy songs and dialogue in a superb and witty Hebrew adaptation by Eli Bijawi, with Bambi Friedman's versatile and elegantly simple set and not least, effective lighting by Uri Morag. But the local production falls short in its execution. Avenue Q with book by Jeff Whitty, music and lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, is a young peoples' musical because, just as Hair epitomized young peoples' zeitgeist in the late 1960s, so does Avenue Q in this first decade of the 21st century. It's the story of young professionals, barely out of their teens and university, trying hard to make it in the big city. The story begins when the muppet-like Princeton played by Ro'I Bar Natan (all but two of the characters resemble the Sesame Street muppets), arrives on seedy Avenue Q to find an affordable apartment. The super who rents him the space is somewhat of a has-been local celebrity played by guest star Michal Yanai. Princeton, with a brand new BA in English and no job, quickly meets his new and equally frustrated neighbors, such as closeted gay banker Rod (also Bar Natan), shy kindergarten assistant Kate Monster (Tali Oren), whose passion is to found a school for monsters where no one will sneer, sex and internet obsessed Trekkie Monster (Nicky Goldstein), raucous Lucy Glitter, the local vamp, (also Oren), as well as frustrated comedian Brian (Nir Shalmon), his therapist fiancée Latina, played exquisitely by Elinor Aharon Ben-Avi and a couple of teddy-bear like moochers deliciously voiced and manipulated by Michal Mukhtar and Idan Alterman. Of course Princeton and Katie fall in love - and have very vocal and energetic sex right on stage - and part only to reunite at the end. Of course there are the usual crises and their resolutions among the other characters, and the proper happy ending. So why isn't it all splendid? Because director Kaptan has chosen to present throughout a relentlessly high-decibel, in-your-face exuberance that makes monochrome what should be multicolored. Such a pity.