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A New Q

Masturbating puppets make beautiful music at ACE

A cozy set of run-down apartments hugs the stage, leaving less of a street and more of a sidewalk for the aggressive characters and busty puppets to (literally) spill into and ignite the audience during Actors Cabaret’s angsty, irreverent production of Avenue Q.

This “Sesame Street for adults” follows the post-collegiate lives of people, monsters and puppets as they struggle to make it on the confusing, real-life pavement of Avenue Q.

If you’re not an incurable prude/self-appointed PC officer and managed to miss the two other recent productions of this Broadway hit, you’re in for a treat. Actors Cabaret is at no disadvantage staging what is the third local showing of Q in the past year, as fresh characterizations take the script for a new spin.

Take Alexis Myles’ crowd-pleasing Gary Coleman, for instance. A little more sage and far more accessible than the tour’s interpretation of her character, Myles imbues the song “Schadenfreude” with such hopeful passion you’ll envy the hopelessly lost. Samantha Rose White creates a charming, raunchier Kate Monster. Tyler Holden made his aspiring (and failing) comedian Brian easy to laugh at. Strong, energetic performances emerge from the rest of the cast as well, crowding the stage in a carnal conglomeration of emotional puppets and persons. 

ACE’s Avenue Q increases the humanity of the musical to mostly good results. Projected images are replaced with real people, diminishing some of the production’s Sesame Street appeal, though this won’t be missed by those unfamiliar with the show. And the interplay between puppets and actors is less technical perfection and more fun. 

“I would definitely see this show again,” an audience member enthused at intermission. He’s not alone. Like the script itself, this production of Avenue Q is no-holds-barred, in-your-face ACE entertainment.

Avenue Q runs at Actors Cabaret of Eugene March 2-April 7; actorscabaret.org or 683-4368.