Red Branch Theatre Company Opens ‘Avenue Q’ Tonight by Keith Tittermary

What is better than full puppet nudity? Nothing, except of course for a barrel of monkeys.

Red Branch Theatre Company is excited to present its original production of Avenue Q, winner of the Tony “Triple Crown” for Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book. Avenue Q is being directed by Jenny Male, with musical direction by Dustin Merrell.

AVENUE Q is part flesh, part felt and packed with heart. It is a laugh-out-loud musical that tells the timeless story of a recent college grad named Princeton who moves into a shabby New York apartment all the way out on Avenue Q. He soon discovers that although the residents seem nice, it’s clear that this is not your ordinary neighborhood. Together, Princeton and his new-found friends struggle to find jobs, dates, and their ever-elusive purpose in life.  (Please note – This mature comedy is meant for adult ears only).

The coolest part of this musical, except for the guy who plays out of work comedian, Brian, is the original puppet designs. We were told that the original puppets were very temperamental back stage, especially Trekkie Monster, who wanted written into his contract his own dressing room, complete with a stripper pole, and complete access to the Girls Gone Wild video library. Since our small theatre does not have those resources, Red Branch Theatre Company decided to commission all original puppets by designer Kaitlin Sousa.

Josh Kemper as Rod. Photo courtesy of Red Branch Theatre Company.

These new puppets will harness the spirit of the original show puppets while adding a dash of Red Branch Theatre Company’s own creativity.  “While we were given the opportunity to rent replicas of the puppets used on Broadway, we wanted to do something different,” explains Tiffany Underwood Holmes, Red Branch Theatre Company managing director. “We respect and admire the original creators of the show, but in the spirit of the originality and creativity that spawned the original production, we wanted to start precisely where they did… from scratch.”

As an actor, working alongside puppets on stage, I will admit, I was apprehensive at first. There’s that old theatre adage, “never work with children, animals, or puppets”. I must say that the puppet cast is very nice both on and off stage. Lucy is nothing like her on stage persona, and while Trekkie is very much the same both on stage and off, he has a tender heart.

Working along aside these “fresh faced” puppets is wonderful, since, as an actor, you get to see these kids grow and learn. Kate Monster, our ingénue, was very shy at first, but has since become one of my favorite puppets. She has some of the best stories for her short puppet life! I didn’t realize that before becoming a puppetress (that’s her term for puppet and actress) she was an actual Kindergarten teacher, so she brings a lot of her personal background to the role.

Nicky and I were just having a conversation about breaking into public television. He is eager to move to NYC after the show and audition for some PBS children’s shows.

Zac Brightbill (Princeton) and Keith Tittermary (Brian). Photo courtesy of Red Branch Theatre Company.

You do not want to miss this show, since these new kids will be household names soon. See them first during Red Branch Theatre Company’s production of Avenue Q!

Avenue Q plays from October 5-21, 2012 at Red Branch Theatre Comany at The Drama Learning Center – 9130-I Red Branch Road, in Columbia, MD. Buy your tickets online, or call (410) 997-9352.

Oh, Trekkie asked me to tell you that the internet is really, really great. For what? Come and find out!



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