*Photo by Lauryn Halahurich '17
WASHINGTON, PA (Nov. 10, 2015) – The Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) Communication Arts Department will open its theatre season with the musical Avenue Q on the Olin Fine Arts Center stage.
Avenue Q, with music and lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, is directed by W&J Communication Arts Professor Karin Maresh and runs Nov. 19-21 at 7:30 p.m. in Olin Theatre, with a matinee on Saturday at 2 p.m. This witty and humorous show addresses some adult issues, so it is not recommended children or students younger than age 14.
Based on the book by Jeff Whitty, and winner of the 2003 TONY "Triple Crown" for Best Musical, Best Score, and Best Book, Avenue Q explores the life of recent college graduate Princeton, his eccentric neighbors on Avenue Q, and their typical New York City experiences and struggles: finding jobs, dates, and – of course – their purpose in life.
As fans of the Broadway rendition of the show will remember, what sets this quirky musical apart is that it is performed with puppets. By using puppets as actors, director and W&J associate professor Karin Maresh, Ph.D. discovered new obstacles while working on this play.
"Directing a musical necessarily means more complications than one would have with a non-musical. We have to hire a musical director, there is often a need for a larger cast, there is choreography, and all of that needs to be fleshed out and perfected in around six weeks," said Maresh. "Avenue Q presents its own challenges for the actors since most of them must not only learn their lines and songs, they must also learn how to manipulate a puppet while singing and speaking."
Although the production poses many obstacles, Maresh said W&J was lucky to have Rick Lyon, an actor from the original Broadway show, visit campus in October to work with the student actors.
And the Broadway influence aside, Maresh said W&J’s performance of Avenue Q will be a uniquely enjoyable one.
"One significant difference is that we have more performers than the original Broadway cast. So many terrific students auditioned for our show,” said Maresh said. “I wanted to provide more opportunities for them, so I found ways to divide up some of the roles originally played by a single actor. Our set may also be a little less glossy than the Broadway production, and our orchestra will be a bit smaller, but we’ve got some fabulous talent here at W&J!”
Communication Arts Department productions are free and open to the public. Olin Fine Arts Center and the Box Office are located at 285 East Wheeling Street in Washington, Pa. 15301, and can be reached at 724-223-6546.
About Washington & Jefferson College
Washington & Jefferson College, located in Washington, Pa., is a selective liberal arts college founded in 1781. Committed to providing each of its students with the highest-quality undergraduate education available, W&J offers a traditional arts and sciences curriculum emphasizing interdisciplinary study and independent study work.
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