When Avenue Q opened last week at its new Off-Broadway home, the New World Stages, a lot of people in the theatrical community were paying close attention. Of course, it's a much-beloved show, and many are simply wishing it well. (Except, perhaps, the producers of Wicked, from whose verdant hands Avenue Q so summarily snatched the Best Musical Tony in 2003.)
But the main point of interest seems to be how well Avenue Q will do financially after making this unusual move. It's not entirely unprecedented for a Broadway show to move Off Broadway, but it's certainly rare. And if Avenue Q succeeds, we can probably expect other small shows to follow suit. There's talk that The 39 Steps will make a similar move after it closes at year's end at the Helen Hayes. Perhaps Next to Normal and Rock of Ages might consider returning to their Off Broadway roots after their respective Broadway stints have run their course.
I've been enamored of Avenue Q ever since I caught one of its Broadway previews back in 2003. I've subsequently seen the show on tour (read my review), and then revisited the Broadway production shortly before it closed (read my review). And, over the weekend, I caught the show once again at its new digs. And I'm happy to say that the show has lost none of its charm upon multiple viewings. Of course, part of the fun for me the last two times is that I saw the show with friends, and got to witness their delighted reactions to the show upon their first viewings. But even when I saw the show solo on tour, I was still caught up in the response of the rest of the audience.
The performance of Avenue Q that I saw over the weekend featured three understudies, indicating that even Off Broadway shows are not immune to the scourge of absenteeism that seems to be sweeping New York theater. Fortunately, the standbys were mostly stellar, particular the charming Jed Resnick as Princeton/Rod and the delightful Ruthie Ann Miles as Christmas Eve.
The more I see Avenue Q, the more I'm struck not just by its wit, but also by its wisdom. Yeah, I know, that sounds pretty pretentious. But there's so much about the show that's just plain smart, from the wistful nostalgia of "I Wish I Could Go Back to College" to the downright Buddhist quality of "For Now." So I wish the show well in its latest incarnation, and strongly recommend that you make your way to 50th Street, between 8th and 9th to catch the show, if you haven't already.
Or even if you have.