“The internet is made for PORN!” sings Trekkie Monster, as Kate Monster looks on disapprovingly. The two puppets share the stage as they argue back and forth about the contributions the world wide web has made to society, neither willing to back down.
Internet pornography is just one of the many issues tackled in “Avenue Q,” the Tony award-winning musical from Jeff Whitty. Known for it’s combination of human and puppet characters, the coming-of-age story also tackles issues of racism, sexuality and the struggles of adulthood.
Gene Biby is directing the tale that follows Princeton, a recent college graduate who moves into the only affordable apartment on Avenue Q in New York City. Armed with only his degree in English Princeton struggles to find a career suited for him along with his new friends, the residents of Avenue Q. There’s Kate Monster, a kindergarten teaching assistant who laments about being unable to find a boyfriend; uptight Rod and his slacker roommate Nicky; Trekkie Monster, who spends all his time on his computer; and Brian, an aspiring comedian who has just been laid off from his job.
After a free student screening on Feb. 18, the show will open on Feb. 19 at 7:30 p.m. in Decker Theatre at Frost Arts Center. There will be more showings on Feb. 20, 26 and 27, as well as Mar. 3-5.
“I remember when I saw it,” Biby said. “I was shocked by how much I loved the show.”
The shows puppet characters are more than willing to tackle tough issues throughout the show. One example is when Princeton asks innocently if Kate Monster is related to Trekkie Monster, seeing how they’re both monsters. She accuses him of racism and the two sing a song about everyone having their own prejudices, despite knowing that it’s wrong.
The musical is intended for a mature audience, but is done in a way that’s similar to the children’s show “Sesame Street,” with upbeat songs and characters like Trekkie Monster parodying Cookie Monster, and Rod and Nicky parodying Bert and Ernie.
Biby said that 12 of the 42 people who auditioned for the show were casted.
“It’s challenging,” said actress Jayce Fortin, who plays the role of Kate Monster. “You have to think about where the puppet is facing, and how the puppet is reacting … it’s a lot of rehearsal.”
The puppets cost $3,000 to rent and are the same as those in the broadway version. They are rented from Music Theater International, the company which holds the rights to “Avenue Q.” Though the audience may want to focus on just the puppets, Biby said the actors are just as much a part of the show.
There are two versions of “Avenue Q,” the normal mature version and a toned-down school version which removes content that some may find offensive. One difference is changing “The Internet is for Porn,” a song about online pornography addiction, to “My Social Life is Online,” a song about social media addiction.
Biby said it was an easy decision choosing which one to produce for Clark.
“We’re adults,” he said. “It’s college.”
Biby stressed that the play is for a mature audience, and that people should use discretion when choosing to see it. But he made it clear that those who don’t see it will be “missing out.”
Since the play deals with graduating college, figuring out what do in life and being stressed about growing up, Biby recommends Clark students check out “Avenue Q.”
“We try to really focus on shows that speak to our students,” he said. “And this one absolutely does.”
Tickets for “Avenue Q” start at $11 for students with ID and are on sale at the bookstore in Gaiser Hall.