Avenue Q // Beenleigh Theatre

Review by Jake Goodall

Head on down to the Crete Street theatre for a fantastic and hilarious night out!

Avenue Q tells the timeless story of a recent college grad named Princeton, who moves into a shabby New York apartment all the way out on Avenue Q. He soon discovers that, although the residents seem nice, it’s clear that this is not your ordinary neighbourhood. Together, Princeton and his new-found friends struggle to find jobs, dates and their ever-elusive purpose in life. However be warned, whilst you may see some puppets and bright colours don’t be fooled! This production is for adults only!

The set designed by Tayla Simpson and Daniel Dosek was simple and effective. The set utilised a two tiered platform with three doors up stage, with a beautifully painted backdrop filling the entire stage. Perry Sanders’ Lighting Design was a delight. Sanders used colouring and patterns throughout the dance numbers reminiscent of a rave.

The costumes designed by Tayla Simpson were bright, like something straight out of the 80s! Whilst each actor had different variations, they all felt like a
cohesive ensemble which is difficult to master. Special mention to Christmas Eve’s wedding dress, it was both beautiful and hilarious!

The Direction by Tayla Simpson and Daniel Dosek was energetic, the blocking felt natural and they way the characters interact with one another was heartfelt. Working with puppets is a very difficult task as the actor must use all their skills and transfer them to the puppet they are working, however it is
clear that Simpson and Dosek have worked hard with each of the actors to create a fantastic mash up of the two worlds. Additionally, the creation of some cardboard puppets to use during dance sequences was a happy surprise, kudos to the puppet creators for making some amazing designs.

Simpson also choreographed the show with their energetic and hard hitting moves. With most songs being up beat it would be difficult to create different dance sequences to the same type of eight counts however Simpson did this with excellence and poise.

The Vocal Direction by Rachel Love was fantastic. Love has whipped this production into shape vocally. Intricate harmonies were perfected and each character could sing stunningly even with their character voices.

The Band Direction by Peter Lavrencic was on fire. The band played every note to perfection and was a fantastic addition to this production. Doubling on Drums, Lavrencic lead James Dent on Guitar, Myles Willis on Bass, Abbey Schumacher on Reeds and Shari Wilner & Kent Lowrey on Keys.

Michael Mills led this production as the young naïve Princeton. Mills is an experienced and talented actor putting heart felt emotion into the character. Opposite Mills was Rachel Love as the innocent Kate Monster. Love has an angelic voice making them perfect for this role. Together Mills and Love
have a beautiful mix and their relationship develops gorgeously throughout the production.

Mark Rickell as Nicky and Michael Ware as Rod created a hilariously funny duo that acquitted themselves well throughout the production. Ware and Rickell created some fantastic characters and must be commended for using their character voices through the entire production.

Dan Konstantinos as Trekkie Monster is the highlight as this production. Not only singing and acting with a gruff voice, which is already impressive, his use of comedic timing was brilliant. It’s clear that Konstantinos is an experienced and naturally talented actor who shines in this role.

Lonnie Toia as Brian and Rowena Orcullo Ryan as Christmas Eve were fantastic. As some of the only ‘human’ characters in the show, the way they interact with the puppets is natural and impressive.

Zara Lassey played the proud Gary Coleman and this was one of the other highlights of this production. Lassey’s riffs and vocality lifted this production from great to fantastic!

Clare Thomson played the sultry puppet, Lucy the Slut. Thomson brought some suave and hilarious awkwardness to this production through their characterisation of this puppet. Our Bad News Bears were played by Laura Coulton and Sarah Engelsmann. Coulton and Engelsmann were a fantastic
duo casting bringing the devil on the shoulder to life with their hilarious quips and vocals.

Rounding out this ensemble of puppets is Sam McLaughlin as Mrs T, Andrew Engelsmann as New Kid/Nicky’s Arm and Jack Barrett as Ricky/Trekkie’s Arm.
Additionally, bringing the fire and moves to this production is the dance ensemble including Samantha Graham, Nyisha Bill-Eteson, Hannah Davies, Marina Pennisi and Georgia Waters.

Overall Avenue Q at BTG is a hilarious revival of this production under the guidance of some fantastic creatives, with an even better and talented cast and crew. Avenue Q is a wonderful night out at the theatre for anyone looking to laugh their heads of, specifically (and we can’t say this loud enough) adults only! So all that’s left to say is BRAVO!

Avenue Q performs until 6th of May 2023 at the Crete Street Theatre. For more information visit their website.

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