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Avenue Q

Far from snazzy avenues where the A listers, B listers, or even C listers live, there are the Q listers, who live on Avenue Q. Before the federalized police did away with that pesky group of witnesses to the dysfunctional power structure—i.e., Occupy Wall Street—(while ignoring repeated and continuing financial crimes) we called those who lived on Avenue Q "the 99%." We still call them the 99%, but that is no longer part of the vocabulary of the corporate media.

Life among the 99% is fairly basic these days, with actual unemployment running about 23%, according to those who can actually do the math. But the great premeditated money supply contraction aside, life on Avenue Q is pretty much the same as it always was, except that Sesame Street has given us a fun and eminently effective metaphor for looking at ourselves, laughing, and learning from our mistakes.

The folks that invented Avenue Q—Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx (music and lyrics) and Jeff Whitty (book)—have dusted off the rhythms of the old Bert and Ernie routines, along with Sesame Street's immortal beasts—Cookie Monster and his ilk—and combined them, stylistically, with the adult cult animation classic, South Park (Lopez worked with Trey Parker and Matt Stone, creators of South Park, on the runaway hit musical, The Book of Mormon), resulting in this hilarious and poignent farce, with lots of great music, choreography, and "Whitty" (pun intended) satire.

The story begins with Princeton, who just graduated with a degree in English Literature. His job prospects are not good, even when this was orginally written, in 2003; today, the situation is much worse. Princeton and his friends had the misfortune of being born into a social, political, economic, and "religious" meme that values profits over people. But the biggest lessons that Princeton learns on Avenue Q are not about work, but about relationships.

Put aside the adult themes of the book and take a look at the message here: they are wholly consistent with what we learned from Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood: be respectful of others as you would like to be respected. Hmmm. That sounds familiar. It's the Golden Rule! How old were we when we introduced to that? How old were we when we forgot it?

It appears in every religion:

    Brahmanism: This is the sum of duty: Do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you. (Mahabharata 5:1517)
    Buddhism: Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful. (Udana-Varga 5:18)
    Confucianism: Surely it is the maxim of loving-kindness: Do not do unto others what you would not have them do unto you. (Analects 15:23)
    Taoism: Regard your neighbor's gain as your own gain and your neighbor's loss as your own loss. (T'ai Shang Kan Ying P'ien )
    Zoroastrianism: That nature alone is good which refrains from doing unto another whatsoever is not good for itself. (Dadistan-I-dinik 94:5)
    Judaism: What is hateful to you, do not to your fellowman. That is the entire law; all the rest is commentary. (Talmud , Shabbat 31a)
    Christianity: All things whatsoever ye would that man should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets. (New Testament , Matthew 7:12)
    Islam: No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself. (Sunnah )1

Avenue Q reminds us, in a gentle and humorous manner, what we may have forgotten along the way from "Except as ye be as children, you shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven ..." to adulterated adulthood.

In Boulder's Dinner Theatre's current production, produced and choreographed by Scott Boyette, the kind-hearted message of the original shines on, providing an evening filled with gracenotes and knee-slapping comedy.

Brett Ambler brings disarming honesty and just the right twist of oblivious nerdiness to Princeton, a perfect compliment to the sweet and sensitive Kate Monster, brought to life by Ellen Kaye. Ambler and Kaye double as Rod, the closet gay guy, and Lucy the Slut, the neighborhood vamp. Their range of voices and musicality impresses, matched by the rest of the ensemble, including Seth Caikowski as the irrepressible Nicky, Ashlie-Amber Harris as the inimitable Garry Coleman, Scott Beyette as the male humnoid, Brian, MariJune Scott as the female humanoid, Christmas Eve, and Joanie Brousseau as the imperious Mrs. Thistletwat.

Boulder's Dinner Theatre's presentation of Avenue Q runs through November 3rd. For more information: 303-449-6000 or www.bouldersdinnertheatre.com.

Bob Bows

Footnotes:
1 Source: The 1999 Old Farmer's Almanac

 

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