Saw a fantastic local production of Avenue Qtonight at Boston’s Lyric Stage Company. This has been the highest-grossing show in the theater company’s history, and they’ve extended the run three times. It’s now running through the beginning of July.
The audience lept to our feet the minute the show ended for the most enthusiastic standing ovation I’ve been part of for a long time.
The theatre seats about 250 people in three-quarters thrust, and the show really benefits from intimacy. (Did you know that Princeton has nipples?) The performers were unmiked! While it meant a few missed lines during some of the busier songs, it was such a joy to hear great voices singing these songs without electronic mediation. (It also reminded me that this show has great vocal arrangements, employing some fantastic harmony in a way that never goes to the showy, borderline inappropriate place that vocal arranging sometimes does.)
I haven’t really thought much about the show since I initially saw it nearly ten years ago. Mostly, it’s aged just fine, with the humor still sharp. At 34, the song “Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist” rubbed me the wrong way, which it didn’t at 24. (I kept wanting to say “but black people being biased against Polish people isn’t the same thing as the societal racism against black people!” Thanks, Tumblr.) Of course, Princeton’s line about being old at 23 stung a lot more now. And it was a little weird to have Gary Coleman alive and well on stage when he’s dead and gone in real life. But those were small quibbles.
I don’t think this show is a masterpiece, but it’s a lot of fun and occasionally touching. I’m shocked that in our current second golden age of movie musicals this one hasn’t made it to the screen yet — it would be relatively cheap and is ready-made for the medium. I’m sure if Rock of Ages and Les Miz don’t tank, it will be a step closer. But in the meantime, anyone in Boston who can afford a ticket (I got mine at a discount through Goldstar) should definitely head over to the Lyric while this show is still running.