Theater Spotlight

Carol Rosegg

at State Theatre through January 13

A review of Avenue Q claimed that this is the show for you "if the words 'Children's Television Workshop' light up old neural centers in your brain." Guilty as charged, I guess; hell, those three words sometimes light up new neural centers in this weary noodle. Not to mention the fact that one of the show's signature tunes ("What Do You Do with a B.A. in English") could serve as the theme song for any miniseries based on my own professional life. Now debuting in Minneapolis, Avenue Q won the Tony Award in 2004 for Best Musical, Best Original Score, and Best Book (something like winning racing's Triple Crown, sometimes with commensurate amounts of hoofing). The plot centers on Princeton, a college grad who moves to New York and gets promptly slammed by the economic realities of his lowly existence. Along the way he gets to know his neighbors, who include a cute kindergarten teaching assistant, a freaked-out internet addict, an unemployed standup comedian, a Republican investment banker with a hidden side, and a therapist whose patient roster contains but one name. It all threatens to sound like an outré version of Friends until you learn that the cast is populated by both people and puppets, and that the proceedings are recommended for ages 13 and up because puppet nudity does indeed take place (a disclaimer in the press packet asserts more than once that Jim Henson, as well as CTW, "have no responsibility for its content"). This was one of the biggest success stories on Broadway in recent years, and this production features players from that staging. While song titles such as "There Is Life Outside Your Apartment" suggest a bit of New York-centrism (here in the hinterlands we tend to be considerably more familiar with the world outside our digs, or our own heads for that matter), but here's a fine chance to catch a slice of post-college angst done with wit. And puppet nudity.

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