Sunday, June 26, 2016

Still Pertinent And Hilarious

I remember when the Broadway debut of Avenue Q made headlines with its sold-out performances and award winning production I wanted so bad to see it. And when it later had a permanent Las Vegas home I thought it might be the perfect show to see whenever I got there.

But just before I made my first trip out to Vegas, the production there closed and I thought I might never get to see this rip-roaring send up of a Sesame Street-esque neighborhood with muppet-like characters and all, dealing with adult themes of sexuality, relationships, racism and disillusionment.

Luckily it's still performed and was magnificently so done this afternoon by a downtown Orlando troupe I've not heard of before. Mad Cow Theater, right smack-dab in the heart of our City Beautiful, is a small venue but not small in heart and skill. I think I'll become a regular patron for sure.

My $35 admission could easily have been double that and I would have been totally satisfied. The theater itself, though only about a hundred seats or so is perfect for the "every seat is the best seat" model and the seats themselves are actually very comfortable (I'm looking at you Bob Carr and Plaza Live). My only complaint was, as usual, the heat. Yes the oldies were the majority in the audience (can't imagine what they thought of puppets having sex on stage) and we can't get them too cold don't 'cha know.

The singing and acting were on-point.The lighting and sound were phenomenal. The orchestra was superb. What more can I say. I beamed a wide grin from beginning to end. Although...(oh oh)..no, it wasn't such a big thing, but...the second act dragged just a tad. But what made up for it were some really great singing performances which broke away from the faux kiddy-ditty style of many of the songs in the first act.

So many of the themes in the show are still entirely pertinent as well which is amazing since it's 15 about 15 years since its debut. Although the part where they sing about the "Internet is for Porn" is no longer a thing of course, right? I mean, the internet has matured a lot since the early 2000s.

Er, um, NOT!! The internet is still, and forever will be mainly for porn...Hallelujah! What ya think I'm gonna do after this post? Ew...TMI!

The show has a strong LGBT storyline running through it with the surrogate Ernie and Bert puppets (Nicky and Rod) and their complicated, closet-bound relationship. Through the performance they grapple with defining not only their feelings towards each other but especially Rod struggles with self-depreciation and denial but in the end things work out for the boys as they quickly make haste to engage in a winked-at possible threeway with a Nicky look-alike.

The performance wraps with the ultimate reminder that the true purpose in life is to live "For Now" which isn't meant to be shallow, but, as the entirety of the show teaches us, to make decisions and perform acts in our lives to better others, our communities and ourselves which make life enjoyable and fulfilling in all of our "for now" moments.

This troupe does a Q&A session with the audience after the show which I didn't stay for...it's very late in my night you know...maybe next time. But I did contribute $20 to a charity they took up collection for as we made our exit, the Zebra Foundation for Youth which helps in providing support programs for young LGBT+ individuals. So perfect a cause, especially for our city right now.

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