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The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    What Do You Do With a B.A. in English?

    It takes “four years of college, and plenty of knowledge” to earn you that “useless degree.” You can’t pay your bills yet, because you have no skills yet, “the world is a big scary place.” Yet Princeton and the other residents of “Avenue Q” believe they can somehow “make a difference to the human race.”

    “Avenue Q” depicts the fear and self-doubt that hits most people in the years immediately after college. The recently graduated Princeton is desperately looking for his purpose in life, while struggling to pay rent and survive on a tiny bank account.

    Most of the characters are lost in some way, searching for some meaning or direction in even the smallest, most insignificant aspects of life. They make huge mistakes, have sex with the wrong people, get themselves fired, and grapple with such issues as racism, sexual orientation, and depression. Throughout it all, they struggle to connect to each other in their rundown apartment building on Avenue Q.

    “Avenue Q” opened off-Broadway at the Vineyard Theatre in March 2003. After experiencing unexpected success during its early months, it moved to Broadway’s John Golden Theatre on July 31. “Avenue Q” won three awards at the 2003 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, over the popular “Wicked.”

    Directed by Jason Moore and choreographed by Ken Roberson, “Avenue Q” is an R-rated “Sesame Street.” Most of the characters are puppets, operated by the actors onstage. Many of the puppet characters are recognizable parodies of “Sesame Street’s” Cookie Monster, Bert, and Ernie.

    There is also Gary Coleman, from the television show “Different Strokes.” He is the building superintendent on Avenue Q, and offers colorful commentary on the racier topics that the musical tackles. Gary sings that “You Can Be as Loud as the Hell You Want (When You’re Making Love)” and criticizes Kate Monster for telling a “black joke.” However, he is the first to admit that “racism has never been exclusively white,” and that seeing poor Nicky “down and out” makes him happy (“Schadenfreude”).

    The world needs people like these who emerge on the wrong side of fate. “Because when people see us, they don’t want to be us, and that makes them feel great!” Their survival comes from their ability to laugh at themselves. No matter what goes wrong, they come to realize that “There’s a fine, fine line between what you wanted, and what you got.” Brian is not the television comedian he aspired to be and poor Gary Coleman is stuck on Avenue Q!

    The show is incredibly cynical and raunchy, but is it is also extremely touching. “Is there anybody here it doesn’t suck to be?” Each character thinks his/her own life “sucks” the most, and have only each other to help them find a purpose and place in life. There is uncertainty and hurt all around, but Kate sings, “You’ll never know ’till you reach the top if it was worth the uphill climb.”

    So is “Avenue Q” worth it? Does Princeton ever find his purpose — will you? Nothing is ever certain. “Except for death and paying taxes, everything in life is only for now.”

    “Avenue Q” is playing at the John Golden Theater at 252 West 45th St. between Broadway and 8th Ave. The show runs two hours and 15 minutes with one intermission. There are no shows on Mondays. The theatre is small, so tickets sell out quickly.

    From November 1 through November 21, tickets are at regular prices, ranging from $66.50 to $111.50. Once the holiday season begins, tickets are almost impossible to come by. For more information call the Golden Theater at (212) 239-6200 or for tickets, visit

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