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Avenue Q explodes with irreverant puppetry in Broadway musical form.

Princeton, Andy Toth, Trekkie Monster, Shannon Chan-Kent, and Kate Monster tell a ribald tale. Photo by Emily Cooper.

Avenue Q is irreverent, witty and not a little bit naughty. It's musical theatre at its finest as directed/choreographed by Peter Jorgensen with musical direction by Sean Bayntun at the Arts Club Theatre’s Granville Island Stage, June 26 – August 3, but it’s also a puppet show. Think: the Muppets having sex and behaving badly.

“The music is playful, the lyrics are outrageous, the script is hilarious, and the characters are delightful.  Underneath its colourful fur, a big, boisterous heart beats,” says Jorgensen.  “Avenue Q is the perfect musical comedy…unless you are under 14 years of age!”

Winners of the Tony Award “Triple Crown" in 2004 for Best Musical, Best Book, and Best Score (Music and lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx. Book by Jeff Whitty. )  Avenue Q requires actors stoked for a different kind of challenge.

Jeny Cassady is just such a performer. Puppet designer, builder, performer, on-set coach, teacher, and director, Cassady has been working with puppets for 25 years.

“I didn’t grow up thinking I wanted to be a puppeteer, “she shared during her lunch break from rehearsal. “I needed to make some money to go to university (she has a BFA with distinction in Acting from the University of Victoria) and I got a job touring across Canada in a young audience show that saw us performing and doing artist in residencies. I researched and taught myself as I was teaching the kids at the same time.”

That and a gig working with master Puppeteer Frank Meschkuleit on a television show  entitled “ Big Teeth, Bad Breath”  also known as “Don’t Eat the Neighbors” sealed the deal. “Frank was the best Film puppeteer in Canada and I was paired up with him because we were both tall. It was an apprenticeship.”

With Avenue Q,Cassady works with every single puppet at some point during the play. “Peter said to me at the start that before Act 1 was over, I would have my hand up every puppet in the show, “chortled Cassady. “ It’s been really lovely to work with the cast who’ve developed the characters and allowed me to take their creations and embrace their characterizations.”

Starring Scott Bellis, Jeny Cassady, Shannon Chan-Kent, Kayla Dunbar, Evangelia Kambites, Andrew MacDonald-Smith, and Andy Toth, they and their puppet characters tell the story of Princeton, a bright-eyed college graduate who arrives in New York City looking for love, a job, and his purpose in life.

For Cassady, doing live theatre has been a welcome change from her usual gigs. Usually working in film and television productions including Muppets Wizard of Oz, The Haunting Hour, Alien vs. Predator2, Marmaduke, Fringe, Stargate SG-1, and Falling Skies, she is delighted to be working on a production that has “artistic expression that uses my puppetry, musical and theatre training. Usually I’m working with scary monsters and wiggly things.”

N BRIEF Arts Club Theatre Company’s Avenue Q at the Granville Island Stage (1585 Johnston Street) from June 20 to August 3, 2013 (MEDIA OPENING: June 26). Monday & Tuesday at 7:30 pm, Wednesday–Saturday at 8 pm, and Wednesday & Saturday at 2 pm. Tickets are $29 to $54, inclusive of taxes and fees. Call the Arts Club Box Office at 604.687.1644 or visit artsclub.com.

 

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