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‘Avenue Q’ ushers touchy issues, famous stage stars

By Wade Allen
Dec. 3, 2009

Actress Kerri Brackin
Photo by Wade Allen
Actress Kerri Brackin, star of Avenue Q, greets fans at the GPAC stage door following the performance. Brackin has several stage credits including a role in the national touring production “Hairspray.”

When the Tony award-winning Broadway production “Avenue Q” came to GPAC on Nov. 16, the house was filled with people of all ages wanting to see the show that had been promoted as controversial. A parental advisory was attached to all promotional materials and advertisements for “Avenue Q,” making some curious as to what exactly the show was about.

Nearly 1,000 patrons got that opportunity as the production unfolded as part of the Broadway and More Series. “Avenue Q” revolves around puppets, handled by performers, discussing topics of interest that could be considered controversial by society including gay rights, sex before marriage, racism and pornography.

“It’s a breath of fresh air,” said Mike Brown of Lumberton. “It’s touching on topics that need to be discussed today by all ages.”

The puppet characters consisted of various stereotypical community members including a naïve elementary school teacher named Kate Monster, an intellectuallygifted college graduate named Princeton, a closeted homosexual named Rod and a pornography addict named Trekkie Monster. The puppets were attempting to fit in with each other and become friends with human characters named Christmas Eve, Brian and Gary Coleman on a street called Avenue Q in New York City.

The musical score ranged in variety, with song titles including “Everyone’s a Little Bit Raci s t ,” “There’s a Fine, Fine Line [Between a Lover and a Friend]” and “The Internet is for Porn.” A live band had been assembled in the orchestra pit and consisted of many instruments including a saxophone, several keyboards and drums.

Cast members for the show included Tim Kornblum, Brent Michael DiRoma, Jacqueline Grabois, Lisa Helmi Johanson and Kerri Brackin, famous for her role in the national tour of “Hairspray.”

“The acting is very well,” said senior theatre major Charlotte Cassidy. “From a dancer’s perspective, it’s amazing.”

Cassidy said that she thought the set was “beautiful” and that she wanted to see the show because of the positive reviews it had received.

“I have only heard great things about it,” Cassidy said.

The show lasted nearly two and a half hours, with a 15-minute i n t e r m i s s i o n between the two acts. Official “Avenue Q” souvenirs including shirts, finger puppets, CDs , tote bags and picture frames were on sale in the GPAC lobby. G P A C E x e c u t i v e D i r e c t o r Patricia Fields could be found in the lobby during intermission asking everyone how they were enjoying the show and other perf o rma n c e s offered by GPAC this a c a d e m i c year.

“We have the best audience in the world,” Fields said. “They’re open-minded and fun-loving.”

The Broadway and More Series continues when the touring production “Camelot” rolls into town on Dec. 5. For tickets or more information, call the GPAC box office at 910-521-6409.


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Updated: Thursday, December 3, 2009
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