Review of Viva’s production of ‘Avenue Q’ in the Maltings Ely on Saturday 20th June 2015

Avenue Q VivaThe line from the programme says it all: “Avenue Q has not been authorised or approved by the Jim Henson Company or Sesame Workshop which have no responsibility for its content”.

This fantastic production by Viva in the Maltings, Ely was definitely no ‘Sesame Street’ for the puppet characters were, to put it mildly, dysfunctional or perhaps I should say, ‘normal’ adults, with adult depressions, desires, faults and language (!), yet not a moment was offensive – unless you are no longer of this planet.

The drama, choreography, character portrayal, singing and accompaniment were of the highest quality. The actors manipulated the puppets skilfully, putting across their personalities really well. Their expressiveness was phenomenal.  All of life’s problems when you live in a back street (or, in this case ‘Avenue Q’) were there: Kate Monster (played by Naomi Porter) and her troublesome love affair with Princeton (played by Nick Huntingdon in this production/Simon Thompson on Thursday); Rod (Ben Clark) and his frustrated gay-ness, exacerbated by Nicky (Michael  Kowalczyk) who was definitely not gay, jobless Brian (Lee Sherwood) and his dominant ‘oriental’ wife Christmas Eve (Kerry Hibbert), Trekkie Monster (Charlie Gillett) and his adult interest in the internet,  seductive Lucy the Slut (Emily Norman/Emily Smith), crabby school principal Mrs Thistletwat (Emily Norman/Emily Smith), black Gary Coleman (Becky Bush) and Bad Idea Bears (Ellie Bovingdon and Charlie Ellerton). They were all magnificently played so that events developed realistically and for the most part, hilariously, poking fun at ‘normal’ human weaknesses.

Director Josh Schumann, Musical Director Graham Brown and co-musical director Richard Hayward and his band of musicians, choreographer Louise Plummer of Newmarket Dance School and their team of dedicated staff are to be congratulated for such an amazing and highly successful production. They will certainly wow the audiences at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Viva’s next production to enjoy will be ‘Half a Sixpence’ at The Brook, Soham 730 pm from 29th to 31st July. tickets: (01353) 722228 http://www.viva-group.org.uk

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