One of the most original and inventive musicals of recent years hits the Rugby Theatre stage this week.
Avenue Q is described as “Sesame Street for grown-ups” – with puppets and humans interacting in a sparkling comedy full of catchy tunes and hilarious characters.
The show has only recently been released for amateur performance, but was a huge hit on Broadway – winning a string of Tony Awards – as well as in the West End.
Among the stars of the Rugby Theatre production which opens on Saturday is Sophie Jones, who says being in Avenue Q has been the biggest challenge of her life.
“It’s tough enough singing, acting and dancing at the same time – and I’ve been doing that for years!” said Sophie. “Add in a completely new skill of working a puppet, and things become really tricky.
“Having said that, I don’t think I’ve ever had so much fun on a show. The script is wonderful, the songs are great, and it is a real feel-good show.”
Sophie, a mum-of-four who has been a Rugby Theatre member since she was youngster, admits there are one or two “rude bits” in the musical – but she says her two eldest children are looking forward to seeing it.
“Daisy’s 12 and Joseph’s 10, and they’ll be there cheering me on at the last night. Bring your older children along and they’ll love it – and they’ll think you are really cool!”
The cast also includes Rugby’s newest West End star Emile Ruddock, the 20-year-old singer, actor and tap-dancer who was in the acclaimed London production of The Scottsboro Boys last year, and is looking forward to rejoining the cast when it returns this autumn.
The Avenue Q team have been rehearsing for ten weeks, mastering the complex songs as well as the intricacies of manipulating a puppet.
Alan Pavis, who directs the show, said: “We’ve had some puppets to rehearse with – but only took delivery of the actual stage versions a few days ago.
“They are incredibly valuable, and very costly to hire – so we’ve only had them since last Saturday.
“The whole cast have done amazingly well to cope with everything – I’m really impressed.
“I really hope everyone in Rugby will come along and support us – I can guarantee a really brilliant night out on Avenue Q!”
Avenue Q opens on Saturday, June 7, then runs from Monday, June 9, to Saturday, June 14. Tickets start at £15 from the box office on (01788) 541234, or http://www.rugbytheatre.co.uk/the-theatre/rugby-theatre-tickets/.