‘Dirty’ puppets, edgy humor, "Avenue Q"

Tulsa Project Theatre's production of "Avenue Q" plays Feb. 10-19 at Tulsa PAC.

by Rob Howard
Associate Editor

“You see these ‘dirty’ puppets, going through life and doing all the things people do,” said Seth Paden, director of Tulsa Project Theatre’s (TPT) production of Avenue Q. Part flesh, part felt and packed with heart, this hilarious musical features a cast of puppets led by Princeton, a college grad who moves to Avenue Q in New York City. He and a group of new friends struggle to find jobs, dates, and an ever-elusive purpose in life.

“It has some poignant, beautiful moments in it,” says Paden. “It’s written really perfectly.” Although the script and the music are the same, Paden says he has made a few changes. The puppets, for instance are not the same as in other productions. TPT bought a completely new cast of puppets from a company in Atlanta.

Josh McGowen plays Princeton in “Avenue Q.” Photo provided.

In addition, it’s grungy. Paden says, “Esthetically speaking, I’m sticking with grunginess. I’m a huge John Waters fan. That’s what I did with Rocky Horror.I used a lot of found items. It’s cheaper, and creates a look that not a lot of people have seen.”

Avenue Q is one of the most delightfully offensive shows currently running in a mainstream New York theatre — it’s beaten by The Book of Mormon, but just barely. That’s why TPT is bringing it to Tulsa. “It’s thought provoking and edgy,” says Paden. He describes his actors as “quirky, eccentric people” who like shows like Avenue Q.

The musical explores the coming-of-age dilemma facing every young adult whose parents ingrained the belief that they are exceptional. Avenue Q tackles significant issues in today’s society - including racism, homophobia, and classism - with some too-close-to-home biting satire.

“The thing that blindsides you [about the show] is that it has a great message about life,” says Paden. He is impressed with “how poignant the message is right now with what’s going on in America right now. It’s about living, how everything you are dealing with is only for now. Everything with politics, with Donald Trump, it’s for right now, but life goes on.”

The musical includes songs like Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist and The Internet Is for Porn. Obviously, Avenue Qis for mature audiences.

The TPT production of Avenue Q plays February 10-19 at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $25 through $55, and may be purchased online at www.myTicketOffice.com, by phone at (918) 596-7111, or in person at the TPAC box office.

Copyright 2017 The Gayly – February 2, 2017 @ 11:40 a.m.