Naughty puppet show for adults only

AVENUE Q

Today- Sunday

Illawarra Performing Arts Centre

Tickets: www.merrigong.com.au

Children might ask how to get to Sesame Street, but under no circumstances should they find their way to Avenue Q.

Developed as a musical in the United States, Avenue Q shares a few similarities to Sesame Street in that there are actors working alongside puppets, there is music and there are lessons to be learned. Some of the puppets are very Sesame Street-esque - Rod and Nicky are much like Bert and Ernie and Trekkie Monster has parallels to Cookie Monster.

But the fact that Trekkie Monster is obsessed with porn and not cookies is a sure sign that this show doesn't have wholesome songs that tell of sunny days sweeping the clouds away. This show is strictly for adults.

"It's definitely something else, it's a bit naughty but all the jokes are relevant," says director Amy Copeland.

"There are things that people shouldn't laugh at but you can't help but laugh.

"There's nothing in the show that's not politically incorrect," she adds, highlighting that the first f-bomb in the show is dropped by a female puppet.

Nine of the 12 characters are played by puppets and Copeland says the puppets help soften the humour.

"It takes a lot of the awkwardness out of things because you still see the innocence in puppets even though they do awful things," she says.

"For instance, there's this sex scene, but because it's with two puppets it doesn't seem that bad."

Avenue Q tells the story of a group of 20-somethings sharing the same dilapidated back street apartment strip in New York City.

The lessons to be learned include people finding their purpose in life, use of the internet, and racism.

"It's like Sesame Street in a way where they go into a song as a lesson," Copeland says.

The coming-of-age parable was originally written by Jeff Whitty, with Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx developing it into a musical that hit Broadway in 2003, winning three Tony Awards in that year including Best Musical. It has been staged in 11 countries since.

Copeland has hired the puppets from Matt Byrne Media, a company that staged Avenue Q in Adelaide last year.

She laughs when asked to describe other stand-out puppets in the show.

"There's a stereotypical Asian mail-order bride and her name is Christmas Eve - some of the lines she comes out with," she says.

This is Copeland's first experience with puppetry, although she's previously directed musicals. She admits it's a challenging task, especially as there are 10 to 12 costume changes for each puppet and each one has an alternate body.

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