Sumter Little Theatre's 'Avenue Q' play is provocative but worth seeing

BY JANE COLLINS
Special to The Sumter Item
Posted 5/26/19

Introducing Sumter Little Theatre's current production "Avenue Q," Director Carmela Bryan dubbed the show "both sweet and irreverent." There are many other words to describe it - creative, honest and frank, current, progressive, positive, …

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Sumter Little Theatre's 'Avenue Q' play is provocative but worth seeing

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Introducing Sumter Little Theatre's current production "Avenue Q," Director Carmela Bryan dubbed the show "both sweet and irreverent." There are many other words to describe it - creative, honest and frank, current, progressive, positive, provocative and enjoyable. Once again, Bryan proves she is an excellent director. Once again, the SLT proves the theater offers excellent productions with better-than-average actors.

The cast exudes energy, and something really marvelous happens as the actors bring the puppets to life - the actors free themselves to become the soul of the puppets. Their facial features and acting add extra dimension to the puppets' character and musical numbers.

Everyone does an excellent job, but two actors - Todd Warwick as Princeton and Cierra Stewart as Kate Monster - bring an extra measure of charisma to their characters. Some of the performers' names you will recognize from other productions, but there are five new faces for the SLT stage, and the casting seems very balanced. Is the play adult? Yes. Is it funny? Yes. Is it controversial? Yes. Is it worth seeing? Definitely!

Randy Abbott's stage design is very workable. The musical numbers, under the direction of Linda Beck, are well executed, and the choreography, under the direction of Libby Singleton, is energetic.

Songs like "When You Help Others" address issues like life purpose and attitude.

The closing song, "Only for Now," has had an interesting history since the play won the Tony award in 2004 for best musical. In 2004, the comparison was sex, then George Bush, then Enron (2006), Fox News and California's Proposition8 (2009), oil slick (2010), NRA (2012), and since 2015 - Donald Trump.

Although some may find some songs and actions challenging, there really is not a dull or unimportant issue in the script, and the SLT actors are up to the challenge.

Sumter Little Theatre, 14 Mood Ave., presents the musical comedy "Avenue Q" today, May 30 through June 2 and June 7 and 8. Tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for students/seniors/military. Weeknight shows begin at 8 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 3 p.m. The show is recommended for older teenagers and adults. For reservations, call (803) 775-2150 or visit www.sumterlittletheatre.com.