There are really two kinds of folks who will be attending Grand Rapids Civic Theatre's ambitious (and head-scratching) production of Avenue Q, the popular contemporary musical that is without a doubt the most challenging piece of theater you are likely to see in your life.
For starters, the first bunch of folks you will see in the theatre are those who have no idea what Avenue Q is all about even after all the disclaimers. These folks will be easy to spot. Because even if they remain in their seats throughout the opening numbers sung by Muppet-like characters on tunes like "What Do You Do with a B.A. in English?" or the memorable "If You Were Gay," if they have not left by the song “Everyone's a Little Bit Racist,” you can be sure by the end of the puppet sex song "You Can Be as Loud as the Hell You Want When You're Makin' Love" performed with the assistance of narrator and building supervisor Gary Coleman of Different Strokes fame, the exodus will be complete. (It is not really Coleman on the Civic Stage but honestly, if you arrive thinking this is a Muppet musical I cannot be too careful.)
So what does any of this mean?
This is where the second crowd is key and important to our city. The Civic Theatre is a major player on the American community theatre stage, as the fourth-largest in the nation. And while many will say there is no room for such laugh-out-loud, blue comedy on the stage here in Grand Rapids, I would strongly disagree.
It is what Civic Theatre has always done here: push us to consider the diverse ways of of living and thinking that theatrical works enable us to experience. We already are witnessing lots of changes to the fabric of the city, so in order to capture the attention of our growing, sophisticated market, then into one's life must fall an occasional show like Avenue Q to serve this diversity.
Here's the real reason I think you will enjoy this production: It is not PC and never once claims to be. Avenue Q is rooted in dark comedy, tackling themes many in society are grappling with every day. And this is the power of a theatrical show like Avenue Q here in our city. It might not be your cup of tea but if it is, you will want to swallow before the next number begins because this show is laugh-out-loud on nearly every single number.
Avenue Q is the first big hit of 2015 long before it even opens here. If awards matter to you, then Avenue Q is a rare triple-crown winner, with a Tony for Best Musical, Best Book, and Best Score. It's a show with a big heart on its furry sleeve for American comedy.
Admission: from $18.