Boulder's Dinner Theatre presents the Tony award winning hit AVENUE Q (Music and Lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx and Book by Jeff Whitty) playing now through November 3rd in Boulder, CO. Okay, time for some honesty and confession - there has been a little hesitation for writing this review. Ultimately, it is time for a little tough love. As a critic, I am supposed to remain impartial but sometimes that is hard when we become invested in each play and the progress and setbacks of a company. Even though I am not supposed to show it, I must admit that each theater company holds a special place in my heart. I am thrilled when a company moves to a bigger performance space, add additional shows to their season or snags a regional or world premiere and am devastated when some have to shut down and their lights are extinguished forever.
With that said, I have adored Boulder's Dinner Theatre for several years and was quite surprised by their lackluster rendition of the smash hit AVENUE Q. While there was excellent singing and the audiences laughed the show as a whole was good, but it wasn't great as I am used to seeing in this wonderful space. This show needed a boost of energy from their wildly successful predecessor, THE DROWSY CHAPERONE. I must point out that a couple of the actors fell flat and seemed to be just going through the motions which threw part of the energy off onstage. I also have an issue with decision to delete the word Fuck. There is a reason that this fabulous show won so many Tony awards, and one of them was for the genius writing including all the fun profanity. When the first fuck is uttered in It Sucks to be Me, the audience realizes that this is not Sesame Street and they are in for a good adult time. I found it odd that they decided to change it to Shit, which just made the entire alteration unnecessary. It seemed like they just played it safe when this show encourages you to go so much further. The perfect example of this was Christmas Eve's wedding dress which is usually a tacky light and fabric extravaganza and in this production, it was only a retro 80's dress. I also got an interesting perspective from sitting on the sidelines for this show and noticed that the actors never played to the sides of the audience, which is something they should keep in mind. Even for its flaws, there were several gems including If You Were Gay, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist, Fine Fine Line, My Girlfriend Who Lives in Canada, Schadenfreude, and I Wish I Could Go Back to College and the audience seemed to enjoy the show!
Brett Ambler was delightful as Princeton and Rod although it seemed at times that he was having more fun and favored the dynamics of Rod over Princeton. Fantasies Come True and I Wish I Could Go Back to College were thoroughly enjoyable. Ellen Kaye was adorable as Kate Monster and Lucy The Slut and she completely owned Fine, Fine Line. You could tell that Seth Caikowski was enjoying himself in the roles of both Trekkie and Nicky. His renditions of The Internet is for Porn and If You Were Gay were just fun to watch. Ashlie Amber Harris totally stole the show with Shadenfreude and Everyone's a Little Bit Racist and she really embodied Gary Coleman. Scenic Design by Amy Champion was well constructed and I loved the two-story brick apartment building with all the doors and windows that was filled with surprises. The puppets by designer Cory Gilstrap were amazing and had great detail and full of life.
AVENUE Q will be playing at Boulder's Dinner Theatre now through November 3rd. For tickets or more information, contact the box office at 303-449-6000 or online at www.bouldersdinnertheatre.com. Boulder's Dinner Theatre is located at 5501 Arapahoe Avenue in Boulder, CO. Adults love AVENUE Q! It may not be appropriate for young children because the show addresses issues like sex, drinking, and surfing the web for porn. It's hard to say what age is right to see Avenue Q, so parents should use discretion based on the maturity level of their children.