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Friday, Sept. 28, 2012

Skylight’s ‘Avenue Q’ Deserves a Hand

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 Skylight Music Theatre opened its season with Avenue Q, an adult, puppet-based musical that attempts the tricky feat of using comedy to delve into sophisticated themes. Under the direction of Donna Drake and Jamie Johns, the Skylight makes the feat look easy.

Ben Durocher stars as a puppet named Princeton who has just moved to a street in New York City that is populated by a diverse group of people and other puppets. Durocher lends endearing humanity to his character. He provides smooth, fluid puppetry, accompanied by a very warm stage presence. Kate Margaret McCann matches that humanity in her portrayal of the puppet Kate Monster. On opening night, McCann's puppetry was a bit stiff. But even if this stiffness continues, McCann's charming stage presence and incredible voice make up for the lack of meaningful puppet expression.

Part of the pleasure in seeing this type of show comes from watching the execution of the puppetry. Of particular note here are Jason Jacoby and Alison Mary Forbes flawlessly sliding in and out of numerous puppet roles. Rick Pendzich, Maya Naff and Tiffany Yvonne Cox beautifully rounded out the cast as three lovably comic non-puppet characters.

Skylight Music Theatre's production of Avenue Q runs through Oct. 14 at the Broadway Theatre Center. For ticket reservations, call 414-291-7800.