Last Chance: Avenue Q at OSTC

Don't let the puppets fool you: With nude scenes and songs like "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist," Avenue Q is as edgy as it gets.


Every now and then, you'll see a great show and the songs will knock around in your head for days. You'll sing them first thing in the morning. You'll sing them by the office Keurig. You'll sing them to your kid at bathtime.

Oklahoma! was a recent example. But "Oh What a Beautiful Morning" is quite different from “It Sucks To Be Me,” “The Internet is for Porn” and “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist."

Therein lies the beauty of Avenue Q, onstage now through Sunday at Ocean State Theatre in Warwick. It's completely, wonderfully inappropriate. The show follows a group of young adults, both people and puppets, trying to make lives for themselves on one gritty street in New York City. Avenue Q bankrolled Broadway thirteen years ago and continues to sell out theaters across the nation.



The best part? The juxtaposition of racy comedy and "Sesame Street"-inspired puppets lets us off our adult leashes for a night. We can howl at rude jokes and giggle at nudie sex scenes and laugh at bouncy tunes with racy lyrics, because Avenue Q makes it awfully clear that none of it is real. Who wouldn't love a bunch of singing, dancing, cursing, promiscuous puppets (with crazy-talented humans guiding them)?

The lead actors, Rochelle Weinrauch and Tommy Labanaris, both wrangle multiple puppets throughout the show, and with the deftness of experienced puppeteers. Weinrauch plays our heroine, Kate Monster, a kindergarten teacher's aid, as well as Kate's romantic rival, Lucy. Labanaris tackles Princeton, a recent college grad with a degree in English, lots of debt and few job prospects. Labanaris also plays Rod, a square nine-to-fiver and repressed homosexual who lives with his roommate, Nikky. (Sound like anyone you know?)



The crazy-talented train rolls on. Sweet, dopey Nikky is played by Jeff Blanchett, who also tackles Trekkie Monster — a Cookie Monster copycat we can thank for "The Internet is for Porn"  and one-half of the Bad Idea Bears, who instigate quite possibly the most graphic sex scene in stage history. (Thankfully, puppets don't have appendages.)

Another great performance comes from Lovely Hoffman, who plays Gary Coleman ("Yes, that Gary Coleman"), a building super on Avenue Q. Hoffman captures all of Coleman's signature sass while singing her lungs out beneath a blue baseball cap.



It's worth noting: Avenue Q has a whole lot of heart. It may get lost beneath such power ballads as, "You Can Be as Loud as the Hell You Want (When You're Makin' Love)." But beneath the sex jokes and the schadenfreude, the show is about a weird little community of people who care about each other. And for a night, you can live on Avenue Q, too. See it before the street lights go dark.


Ocean State Theatre Company's Avenue Q is onstage through August 21. Tickets are $39 to $59. Call 401-921-6800 or visit for more information.