Credit: Brett Beiner

This clever 2003 Broadway hit by songwriters Jeff Marx and Robert Lopez and
playwright Jeff Whitty, now in a breezy, intimate staging by director L.
Walter Stearns at Mercury Theater, is the story of Princeton, a 23-year-old
college grad with no job, no girlfriend, and no sense of purpose. After
moving to Avenue Q, a fictional slum on Manhattan’s Lower East Side,
Princeton meets plucky but lonely Kate Monster, a kindergarten teaching
assistant with dreams of opening a school for monsters like herself—or
“people of fur,” in her words. Princeton’s other neighbors include failed
stand-up comic Brian and his partner Christmas Eve, a therapist with no
clients; former child celebrity Gary Coleman; growly-voiced Internet porn
addict Trekkie Monster; and bickering roommates Rod, a closeted gay
Republican investment banker, and Nicky (a twist on Sesame Street
‘s bickering Bert and Ernie).

With perky songs, video sequences, and Muppet-style puppets portraying most
of the characters, this Sesame Street spoof illustrates such
grown-up life lessons as “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist,” “You Can Be as
Loud as the Hell You Want (When You’re Makin’ Love),” and “There’s a Fine,
Fine Line” between friendship and romance—as noted in the aching, plaintive
ballad of the same title, beautifully sung by Leah Morrow as Kate Monster.

Having the cast visibly manipulate the puppets (designed by Russ Walko) is
an ingenious device, with the actors representing the characters while the
puppets portray everyone’s hopeful, anxious “inner child.”   v