Entertainment » Theatre

Avenue Q

by Kayla Miller
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Wednesday Jan 18, 2012
Nick Arapoglou and Mary Nye Bennett in "Avenue Q"
Nick Arapoglou and Mary Nye Bennett in "Avenue Q"  (Source:Graphics Horizon)

If you're like a me, a recent college graduate wading through the impenetrable waters of the world of 'work', then surely you can recall that sense of hope, swollen and triumphant in your chest, when you were handed your diploma. Armed with nothing but your exuberance and four years of college, dubbed a fully-fledged 'adult' (with a degree, nevertheless), you felt confident and prepared to overcome whatever obstacles may arise.

But then, if you're like me, it didn't take long for life to bring you down a few notches, prompting sporadic existentialism, melancholia, and the dreaded quarter-life crisis.

And trust me, the folks living on "Avenue Q" understand.

Princeton (Nick Arapoglou), "Avenue Q"'s hand-puppet hero, is a fresh-faced 22-year-old when he realizes that the apartments on Avenues A through P are out of his price range, landing him on the not-so-glamorous Avenue Q.

Amongst a motley band of neighbors, including monsters, gay puppets, and a bitter landlord, Gary Coleman, Princeton grapples with finding a sense of purpose outside the world of dining halls and co-eds.

While the tone of this Sesame Street-for-grown-ups production remains light, the subject matter is all-too-familiar to its audience: poverty, homelessness, pornography, and racism, for starters.

In a scene perhaps more poignant now than during "Avenue Q"'s launch in 2003, Princeton is laid off from his post-graduation job before he even begins his first day. While the tone of this Sesame Street-for-grown-ups production remains light, the subject matter is all-too-familiar to its audience: poverty, homelessness, pornography, and racism, for starters.

I first saw "Avenue Q" at the Cobb Energy Center in 2010. Within 10 minutes of the production at Horizon Theatre, however, I realized how much better this already-phenomenal show could be. The intimacy of the theater acts as transformative, creating a synergistic link between the play and its audience. Horizon's "Avenue Q" features a cast without any apparent weak links, though there were certainly standouts.

As Gary Coleman, Bernard D. Jones shines onstage, with a likeability that made him a clear audience favorite. "You Can Be as Loud as the Hell You Want (When You're Makin' Love)" most clearly exemplifies his natural vocal prowess, highlighting his own voice instead of the singing Gary Coleman.

Setting "Avenue Q" apart is the honesty with which it approaches its subject matter. With songs like "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist" and "Schadenfreude" (focusing on the human trend of delighting in another's pain), the truth about our own misguided existences becomes the backdrop for Princeton's internal struggles.

Instead of glossing over the uglier bits of human nature, "Avenue Q" delights in them: our jealousies, our insecurities, and even our discomfort with looking homeless folks in the eye.

With so little left off the table, "Avenue Q" concludes with the most reassuring message it can offer: everything -- be it poverty or discomfort or joy or life itself -- is "only just for now."

"Avenue Q" has been extended through April 1 at Horizon Theatre, Euclid and Austin Avenues in Little Five Points. For info or tickets, call 404-584-7450 or visit www.horizontheatre.com

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