- United Kingdom Critic
Outside of your local theatre’s seasonal programme, there’s always a plethora of local companies mounting productions that can provide you with a highly varied theatre season. One such company that has been making a real name for itself in this sector is Futurist Theatre Productions, who bring musicals and local talent together to create memorable evenings of entertainment. On that note, I was very much looking forward to reviewing their latest production of the smash Broadway hit Avenue Q at Yeadon Town Hall.
In case you’re not already familiar with it, Avenue Q is set in New York, and follows recent graduate Princeton (Thomas Lillywhite) as he moves to the big city with the ambition of finding his purpose. Along the way, he meets and falls for Kate Monster (Lauren Patrick) and meets a highly eclectic neighbourhood of characters that teach him important lessons. His madcap dealings include seeing him realise the importance of finding real love, thanks to his time with Lucy the Slut (Ellie Harper), dealing with his neighbour Trekkie Monster’s (James Underwood) obsession with porn, and realising that living in and enjoying the moment is one of the most important things in life.
Avenue Q is a hilarious, well-written musical that requires a real directorial eye for detail and, most importantly, a pure sense of fun in order to effectively bring the piece to life. It’s certainly apparent that Catherine Moglia’s directorial style serves the musical well – she has clearly worked hard and succeeded to strike the perfect balance between farce and a deeply meaningful story. This is most apparent when seeing her talented cast bring the play-world to life through the play’s integral puppets; Moglia evokes a real sense of performative truth as the piece unfolds, and as an audience, we cannot help but be joyously inspired when watching very human feelings and emotions being brought to life through cartoonish puppets as a result.
The depiction of these Sesame Street-style puppets must be sensitively handled by their puppeteers, but certainly also by their human co-stars too, in order to uphold that sense of truth integral to the musical’s success. In that same vein, I’m pleased to report that this production of Avenue Q houses exceptional talent in its cast, who strive and succeed to achieve this truth as they bring the story to life through well-crafted dramatic and comedic exchanges and soaring vocal performances. Lillywhite brings a warm likeability to Princeton, and when combining his powerful vocals and a truthful, organic consideration of character, he crafts a highly memorable and enjoyable performance. The same can be said of Patrick, as her crystal clear vocals soar alongside her comedic timing and presence as Kate Monster. Harper also highlights herself as one to watch, with a sense of performative command as she brings to life her puppet and its vital lesson, and it would certainly be impossible to forget Underwood’s hilarious and deftly handled depiction of Trekkie Monster.
There are an incredibly large number of memorable moments and performances in this production of Avenue Q. The ensemble of performers exceed in each of their roles, and work well together to serve the needs of the story and engage the audience with the contemporary themes of the musical. Futurist really have outdone themselves with this piece – it is a warm, engaging, highly entertaining and thoughtful production that instils real joy in its audience members. With a collection of well-crafted performances and a production crew that generates an enhancing scenography, this production of Avenue Q really is not to be missed.
Avenue Q is at Yeadon Town Hall until Saturday 14th April. For more information and tickets, visit https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/event/FGLLDI