Paul Vale (The Stage)A highly accomplished touring production that could easily pop up in the West End if it weren’t so fully scheduled.
With the announcement of tours closing early, it is encouraging to see Sell a Door able to continue producing mid-scale musicals with impressive production values to further venues in the UK and beyond. Avenue Q has a provenance, of course, including a successful, five- year run fuelled by positive word-of-mouth in London, and creator Robert Lopez is part of the team behind the current hot ticket, The Book of Mormon.
With a more original score than The Book of Mormon – and certainly being more bawdy – Avenue Q is Lopez and co-creator Jeff Marx’s coming-of-age parable; a lyrical satire on life’s disappointments and anxieties, told in a manner of the PBS children’s show Sesame Street. Sell a Door’s production, directed with energy and flair by choreographer Cressida Carre, retains all the charm of the original and features puppets by Paul Jomain, a veteran of the Jim Henson Company who crafted some of the West End team.
The cast of humans features some familiar faces, including Richard Morse as wannabe comedian Brian, and introduces newcomers Arina Ii as the heavily accented Christmas Eve and the lively Etisyai Philip as Gary Coleman, continuing the cross-dressing tradition of the role. Richard Lowe’s sweet, competent tenor lends a romantic edge to the hero Princeton while the remarkably versatile Sarah Harlington brings dramatic strength to her musical numbers as Kate Monster, notably the show’s stand-alone ballad There’s A Fine, Fine Line.
With Richard Evans’ three-tier set and Daniel Griffin’s exceptional live band, Sell a Door’s production retains the quality of a West End hit.