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Avenue Q review at New Wimbledon Theatre, London – ‘monster talent’

It’s been 13 years since Avenue Q opened in the West End, introducing British audiences to characters such as Trekkie Monster, Lucy the Slut and Christmas Eve.

Robert Lopez, Jeff Marx and Jeff Whitty’s homage to the puppet television shows of our childhood is unashamedly frank, exploring the lives, hopes and dreams of an eclectic mix of characters in downtown Manhattan. It’s Sesame Street for grown-ups and despite its increasing age, the show remains as fresh and pertinent as ever.

Selladoor successfully toured the show three years ago and this energetic and talented new cast ensure that none of the magic has faded in that time. Paul Jomain – late of the Jim Henson Company –  continues to create the delightfully expressive puppets operated by the ensemble. There are intricacies of doubling at play throughout but Cecily Redman has probably the most challenging task in this regard, bringing life and depth to the lovably naive Kate Monster as well as Lucy the Slut.

As for the human characters, there is a fantastic turn from Saori Oda as the terrifying Christmas Eve. Oda’s gloriously comic, deftly physical performance is timed to perfection. Nicholas Mclean, as caretaker Gary Coleman, backs up comedy smarts with soaring vocals making Schadenfreude a highlight of the second act.

In 2018 Selladoor announced its intention to produce pantomimes to bolster the company’s expansion. If its pantomimes feature the same energy and talent as Avenue Q, Selladoor might quickly dominate the market.

Verdict
Confidently upbeat revival with strong production values and some monster talent

Production

Production
Avenue Q
Venue
New Wimbledon Theatre
City
London
Starts
February 4, 2019
Ends
February 9, 2019, then touring until August
Press night
February 6, 2019
Book
Jeff Whitty
Music
Robert Lopez, Jeff Marx
Lyrics
Robert Lopez, Jeff Marx
Director
Cressida Carré
Musical director
Dean McDermott
Choreographer
Jess Parker
Set
Richard Evans
Lighting
Charlie Morgan Jones
Sound
Chris Bogg
Production manager
John Rowland
Cast includes
Megan Armstrong, Jasmine Beel, Ellis Dackombe, Chloe Gentles, Nicholas Mclean, Robbie Noonan, Saori Oda, Cecily Redman, Lawrence Smith, Oliver Stanley and Tom Steedon
Producer
Selladoor Worldwide, Showtime Theatre Productions, Richard Darbourne Limited
Running time
2hrs 15mins