The Broadway smash Avenue Q opens tonight at the AT&T Performing Arts Center and we couldn’t be more excited. (Well, next to being locked in a room for ten days with Ryan Reynolds) and our newly discovered powers of mind control, but that’s still in the early planning stages).
If you’ve ever seen Avenue Q, you know why we’re pants-wetting happy to talk with one of the show’s creators. And if you haven’t, then get your puppet-lovin’ selves to the box office and get tickets today! Or read this Q&A with Jeff Whitty, who wrote the Tony Award-winning book for the show, and get a chance to win tickets to Friday’s performance.
Gay List Daily: First of all, we must praise you. Avenue Q is not just our favorite puppet musical of all time, it’s easily our favorite Gary Coleman musical, too. How did the idea for the show come about?
Jeff Whitty: Avenue Q came about as a TV show pilot created by our composers, Jeff Marx and Bobby Lopez. They did a reading of it and some smart theater producers thought, “This should be a musical,” and I got hired from there to make it into a full evening of theater with the composers.
GLD: And now, we must curse you by association (since you didn’t write the music). Every time we see the show (or listen to it in our car, on the treadmill, or in our hyperbaric chamber), the songs are stuck in our head for days. Schadenfreude is particularly troublesome. The fact that we can spell the word from memory now, even more so. Is there a cure?
JW: Honey, welcome to my life since 2003! My boyfriend always suggests singing “Yellow Submarine,” which he calls “The cleansing song.” It removes any song stuck in your head.
GLD: Who is your favorite character in the show, and after all these years, has that changed?
JW: My favorite character is Kate Monster, the female lead (puppet), because she's the moral center of the show. Also, I've always thought she's the coolest character – I sometimes tell our actresses, “Kate is the girl who did ecstasy in college, only once, but the one time she did it she was a complete blast and amused all of her friends.” She's that kind of girl – the romantic who just needs a chance to let loose. Lucy (the slutty character) was fun to write, but Kate is where my heart is.
GLD: Have you ever gotten any juicy hate letters from parents who brought their kids thinking it was appropriate for all ages? Or racists who were mad because they no longer feel special? Details!
JW: At this point we've had every imaginable response to the show. The secret is that there's nothing that kids aren't seeing on their crappy MTV reality shows, but it's with puppets, so it seems shocking. I find that parents generally are happy to bring their teenaged kids because they seem really cool.
GLD: We have a bit of a crush on Nicky from the show (those giant hands!). But you’re awfully cute yourself. Any chance you’ll come to Dallas to check on the production here? We’d be happy to show you where JFK was shot. Or give you a tour of Southfork.
JW: Oh, give me a grassy knoll and I'm easy, honey. Nicky is sort of hot, I guess – I always liked those sort of cool sloppy slacker dudes. You should meet my partner.
GLD: Have you heard of any plans to make Avenue Q into a movie? Or maybe just a musical sequel?
JW: There's been talk of a movie over the years. I honestly think it's a money-in-the-bank idea, but I'm not a brilliant Hollywood executive, so I dunno. As far as sequels, who can say? I'm not sure I'd be the one to write it, but I'd be curious to see what someone else came up with!
GLD: We’ve already got three sequels written. We’ll send them your way. Now we hope we’re not getting too personal, but we hacked your Facebook account and saw your answers to that 25 Random Things quiz. While answering it, you said that if people knew what you were wearing, they might very well be aroused, appalled, or indifferent. So what are you wearing during this interview?
JW: Everything I'm wearing now is from the Quacker Factory line on QVC.
GLD: Love the Quacker Factory! That lady’s crazy fun. And speaking of awards, was winning the Tony everything you thought it would be? Do you carry it around like Kathy Griffin does her Emmy?
JW: That thing! It was the most wonderful night of my life, but when I run across it while dusting (it lives in my antique trophy collection) I still think, “Wow – I won that.” I'm not sure it will ever quite sink in.
GLD: So excited to read about your work on the musical version of Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City. Have you gotten to meet Jake Shears in person yet? We think we might just die of a Cialis-type side effect. You know, that thing that lasts more than 4 hours.
JW: I'm an old friend of Jake's so YES we've met, and we're well on our way to making a musical that might levitate the audience! We have an amazing creative team – John Garden, our other genius composer, and our director Jason Moore and musical director Stephen Oremus, who are also fantastically talented. We're opening in San Francisco next Spring – it might be epic. I don't foresee a big disaster, but one can never say. I'm laying low on my predictions for this one, but I think it could be really special.
GLD: Ten seems like a good number of questions. So we’ll end it here. For anyone who’s never seen the show, why is Avenue Q the best thing they could possibly spend their money on?
JW: Avenue Q can provide a lot of fun for both musical theater queens and people who think they hate musical theater. I always say that no matter how much you think you know about the show beforehand, you're bound to be surprised. We have a wonderful cast on our tour, and, well, you're just a FOOL if you don't go! Will that sell tickets?
GLD: Yes, calling people fools always sells tickets! But you’re right they’d be crazy not to go.
We’re giving away five pairs of tickets to Avenue Q this Friday night. Go to our Contact Us page and tell us why you deserve a free pair of tickets, courtesy of the AT&T Performing Arts Center. Request must be received by 11:59 p.m. tonight, May 25, 2010. Winners will be drawn at random from our favorite responses. We will notify you on Wednesday, May 26, 2010, if you are indeed a winner. Include a valid e-mail address and daytime phone number in the body of your entry. Good luck!
Tickets start at $25
“Avenue Q” runs May 25 – June 6, 2010
Margot & Bill Winspear Opera House
2403 Flora Street, Dallas
Turtle Creek Chorale Goes Off Broadway
There’s Off Broadway. Off-Off Broadway. And now something so far off Broadway it’s in a completely different time zone. (Make your dinner reservations accordingly.)
Off Broadway! is the Turtle Creek Chorale’s dramatic 30th anniversary season finale, featuring many of the Great White Way’s biggest musical sensations. From Andrew Lloyd Webber and Stephen Sondheim to Kander and Ebb, the men’s chorus will sing (and dance!) their hearts out with songs like Big Spender, Impossible Dream and numbers from A Chorus Line and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.
This will also be TCC’s first appearance at the AT&T Performing Arts Center Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre, so the ending of the season also marks a new beginning.
Tickets: $29 – $65
Purchase by phone: (214) 880-0202
Buy online at www.turtlecreek.org