SURREY – If you were ever a fan of the children’s puppet-based TV show Sesame Street, then you might recognize a few familiar faces hitting the stage at Surrey Arts Centre this week.
Puppets that may look a lot like the ones that taught you how to count and spell could be teaching their audience some new life lessons in an upcoming production of Avenue Q, an adult musical that’s "part felt, part flesh" starring familiar childhood puppets.
The story follows Kate Monster, a charming girl-next-door-esque puppet looking for love, and Princeton the Puppet, a confused English major looking for a purpose in life, both of whom have recently moved to Avenue Q. "(Kate)’s basically the girl next door. She’s a kindergarten teaching assistant and she doesn’t have a lot of luck with guys, so I feel like she’s always searching for a nice guy to settle down with," said Kayla Dunbar, an ex-Surreyite who plays Kate Monster.
Dunbar was part of Avenue Q’s original cast when it first made its Arts Club debut. Her co-star, Jeremy Crittenden, plays her opposite as Princeton.
"(Princeton) just graduated from college with a BA in English, and he’s not exactly sure what that’s going to be good for in life so he’s moved to Avenue Q looking to find his purpose," Crittenden told the Now.
By some star-crossed puppetry, Kate and Princeton meet and perhaps even share a felt-on-felt romp unlike anything you’ve ever watched on PBS. But, as much as Avenue Q teases at its out-of-this-world hilarity, the stars maintain that the play will hit close to home for many of its reallife viewers.
"Other than Lucy T. Slut (another hypersexualized puppet in the production), the
characters are kind of based in reality, so they really are quite normal people and normal monsters," Dunbar asserted.
"You know, they’re looking to fall in love, they’re looking to have success in their life, and they stumble along the way just like we do, which really makes the show about real life. It’s quite honest," she said.
Crittenden agrees that, although the show is chock-full of penis jokes and puppetry, Avenue Q is rooted in reality.
"I think that’s really part of the charm of the show, that if you grew up watching Sesame Street, it’s instantly recognizable to you what’s going on. That sort of world where humans that talk to other monsters all coexist together, and also everything is formed into the little lessons for you. Only, in Avenue Q, it’s not about spelling and counting; it’s about racism and one-night stands," he said with a laugh.
As part of the Arts Club Theatre On Tour, Avenue Q opened Wednesday (Oct. 15) at Surrey Arts Centre and continues until Oct. 25. Tickets start at $29, to purchase call 604-501-5566 or visit Tickets.surrey.ca.