As you may be able to intuit from its regular appearance here, I have become more than a little obsessed with Avenue Q over the past couple of years as it fast became one of my favourite musicals and probably the best new musical I’ve seen full stop. I’ve taken many people, friends and family alike, to see it to near universal acclaim and the soundtrack is often on my iPod, although it has particularly been the London cast that has won my heart.
Change always encroaches though and a major overhaul of the cast meant that this visit, the first for a while, was filled with a little trepidation at how these changes would affect the show that has become so dear to me.
Any Dream Will Do alumnus Daniel Boys takes over as Princeton and Rod and brings a similar wide-eyed freshness to Princeton as Jon Robyns did which is what the role really needs. His Rod was a little too much for me, too mincingly camp and not convincing enough, I think he needs to be careful not to overdo it in order to keep the audience reaction on the right side of homophobia!
Mark Goldthorp as Nicky and Trekkie impressed me as he is required to be so versatile and lived up the challenge really well, even investing his Bad Idea Bear with an extra naughty glint in the eye. Christopher Fry as Brian is much less goofy and at times too subtle for what is a broad comic character (he sings a song called ‘I’m Not Wearing Underwear Today’ for Christ’s sake) and so I’m not sure this is the right direction to go with this character. Edward Baruwa has settled into his Gary Coleman role ok and Yanle Zhong’s Christmas Eve remains good.
Which then leads us onto Rebecca Lock as Kate Monster and Lucy the Slut. Now one of the main reasons I have seen this show so much has been for Julie Atherton’s performance, one of the greatest and most appealing I think I’ll ever see and so Lock clearly has a lot to live up to on my part, but I really found her to be disappointing. Playing Kate as less of the innocent ingénue and more of a worldly-wise woman removes so much of the innocence from her storyline and resulting in a much less nuanced performance which veers too close to slapstick. Vocally, she is not weak but similarly she did not impress and needed to watch her clarity on several numbers.
So has the Avenue Q bubble burst for me? It is hard to say, but sadly this was the first time that I came away from the show thinking I don’t really want to see it again. As the Bad Idea Bears might say, that makes me sad 🙁