School of the Arts

Spring Musical: Avenue Q

Laugh-Out-Loud Spring Musical 'Avenue Q' Coming to Laxson

The cast and puppets of Avenue Q
The Cast and Puppets of 'Avenue Q'

CSU, Chico’s School of the Arts presents the Tony Award-winning, laugh-out-loud “Avenue Q” as this year’s spring musical.  

Performances take place Wednesday–Saturday, May 2–5 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, May 6 at 2 p.m. in Laxson Auditorium. Purchase tickets at the University Box Office, 530-898-6333.

“’Avenue Q’ is ‘Sesame Street’ for adults,” said William Johnson, director and Department of Music and Theatre faculty member.

Featuring a puppet and human cast, “Avenue Q” is a musical that uses the format of “Sesame Street” to talk frankly about real-life, adult situations in a humorous way. The characters tackle subjects such as having a college degree but not finding a job, racism, homosexuality, modern relationships and, at the center of it all, finding their purpose in life.

“It’s Adult 101,” Johnson said. “It’s talking much deeper, but in a humorous way that helps get the pill down.”

Students in the Department of Music and Theatre previously had a chance to vote on what this year’s spring musical would be, and, overwhelmingly, “Avenue Q” was at the top of their list.

Appearing left to right Matthew Pankin, Jacob Honnold, Jason Elford, Casey Schneider, Ravin Wilkins, Nick McCollum
(L-R) Anh Tai Bercher (Rod) and Z Hansen (Nicky)

But in order to do this musical, the actors had to learn how to be puppeteers. They went through a workshop with someone who worked with Jim Henson (creator of “The Muppets” and involved in “Sesame Street”).

“They took to it quickly,” Johnson said. “And the puppets allow you to say and do things in a cute, accessible, entertaining fashion that you couldn’t get away with using human actors.”

Cast members include Brandon Burchard, Kathryn Aarons, Anh Tai Bercher, Z Hansen, Meena Shayesteh, Juan Bolanos, Olivia Loupe, Lindy Forman, Eliza Odegard, Dominic La Frantz, Ciara Carvajal, Patrice Berry, Oliver Loll, and Libby Quibell. 

Providing the instrumentation for the musical is a small pop’s orchestra conducted by Department of Music and Theatre faculty member Dara Scholz. Instruments include two keyboards, drums, guitar, bass, saxophone, clarinet, and a penny whistle. The orchestra will be housed onstage in the second-floor apartments of the set, which was designed by Brian Redfern, Department of Music and Theatre faculty member, to look like a run-down Sesame Street.

The musical is filled with witty songs, such as “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist,” “There’s a Fine, Fine Line,” “The Internet Is for Porn” and “What Do You Do with a B.A. in English?”

“It’s going to be hysterically funny and entertaining. You’ll be laughing all the way home and quoting lines not suitable for work,” Johnson said.

Even with all the humor involved in the musical, there is an underlying message of the experience of becoming an adult in the real world.

Puppets Lucy and Trekkie Monster
Puppets Lucy and Trekkie Monster

“I hope the audience goes out feeling that it’s going to be okay and that they can roll with the punches, cherish the moment. Don’t be afraid of who you are, what’s happening and what you want. You’ll figure this out,” Johnson said.

This production is not recommended for children under the age of 16.

Tickets, $20 premium, $16 adults, $14 seniors, and $10 students and youth, are available to purchase at CSU, Chico’s University Box Office, 530-898-6333, online at www.csuchico.edu/boxoffice, or at the door.

Laxson Auditorium is located on CSU, Chico’s campus. For those who need special seating accommodations, please call the box office for arrangements, 530-898-6333. More information is available online at the School of the Arts website and Facebook page

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Story by Shelby Casey, publicity assistant, School of the Arts