NOT YOUR AVERAGE PUPPET SHOW: ‘Avenue Q’ set to open March 17 at the Strand

Published 2:14 pm Thursday, March 9, 2023

The Westside Theatre Foundation is gearing up for its production of “Avenue Q,” an adult musical comedy that looks a lot like an episode of Sesame Street — the show takes place on a city block and features young people seeking life lessons, which are supplied by a group of singing puppets.

However, Avenue Q has definitely not been authorized or approved by the Jim Henson Company or Sesame Workshop. While the cast is made up of both puppets and humans like the beloved children’s show, the content is R-rated, said Jack Burns, the head of the Westside Theatre Foundation and the director of the play.

The characters who need advice are 20-somethings, and the lessons they learn are about becoming adults.

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“I think ‘Avenue Q’ was first produced around 2004, so it’s almost 20 years old,” Burns said. “And all of the themes of the show: inclusivity, compassion, understanding the struggle of the young people to get established in the community and find a job even though they’ve got a liberal arts degree that makes it hard to find a job necessary; all those are still factors that are every bit as relevant today as they were almost 20 years ago.”

The foundation did a successful run of the show in 2017. It involved a dozen or more puppets which all had to be hand-made by Burns and a number of volunteers he refers to as the Acme Puppet Factory.

“We could have rented puppets, but where’s the fun in that? First, we had to make them, then we had to figure out how to effectively operate them while singing, talking and acting,” Burns said.

The musical will be performed at the Strand Theater on the following dates:

  • March 17 at 7:30 p.m.
  • March 18 at 7:30 p.m.
  • March 19 at 4 p.m.
  • March 24 at 7:30 p.m.
  • March 25 at 7:30 p.m.
  • March 26 at 4 p.m.

Tickets are $20 at the Highway 61 Coffeehouse and $25 at the door.