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Theater Review (LA): Avenue Q at the Met

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Since its debut in 2003, the multiple award-winning “Muppets with problems” musical, Avenue Q, has been staged thousands of times all over the world, including a record-breaking stint on Broadway. Now, the DOMA Theatre Company continues the tradition with a splendid production at the Met Theatre in Hollywood.

For anyone who’s been living under a rock, the show centers around the denizens of a down-at-its-heels apartment block in Brooklyn. They’re a diverse group: Christmas Eve is Asian-American; Brian, her fiance, is standard Caucasian slacker; Rod is an uptight, closeted gay Republican; Kate and Trekkie happen to be monsters; and the building super, Gary Coleman, is…well, Gary Coleman.

A recent arrival is Princeton, a wet-behind-the-ears college graduate desperately seeking his purpose in life. He becomes the newest resident of the avenue and quickly falls for Kate, despite their differences. Meanwhile, Rod is unable to control his attraction to his straight roommate, Nicky, and Christmas Eve just wants Brian to get a job and become her husband. Eventually everything works out — sort of — as the characters come to accept their mediocre lot in life and are determined to make the best of it.

DOMA’s ensemble cast is terrific, consisting of three human actors and four puppeteers who manipulate several of the characters. Chris Kauffmann and Danielle Judovits are delightful as Princeton and Kate, with Kauffman doing double duty as Rod and Judovits also contributing the voice for the sultry Lucy, a sleazy lounge singer who seduces Princeton.

Janelle Dote and Chris Kerrigan are also fine as Christmas Eve and Brian, the human members of the cast (along with Benal Boyd’s amusing Coleman), while Mark Whitten provides the voice and movement for Trekkie, Nicky and — along with Libby Letlow — the Bad Idea Bears, two Disney-esque animals who pop up whenever one of the main characters is at a moral crossroads, urging him or her to slack off, drink too much, and have sex. They’re pretty hilarious.

DOMA is an admirably ambitious company whose output has been variable, but Im happy to report that its Avenue Q is firing on all cylinders. The production, under the direction of Richard Israel, is spot-on. Tech contributions from Staci Walters (scenic designer), Johnny Ryman (lighting designer) and David Crawford (sound designer) perfectly evoke the set of a “Sesame Street”-style television show, and the six-piece band, conducted by Chris Raymond, adds considerable richness to the many musical numbers. It’s a first-rate production, and there wasn’t a single opening night glitch or misstep in sight.

Avenue Q plays at the Met Theatre Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3:00 p.m. with 7:30 p.m. shows just added. Reservations can be made here.

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About Kurt Gardner

Writer, critic and marketing expert whose passion for odd culture knows no bounds.