Evan Ensign is the director behind the current UK tour of Avenue Q.
He talks to Sammy Jones about the show, which begins a week-long stay at MK Theatre from Monday...
“IT’S not your traditional Broadway musical,” Evan says of the puppet draw that is Avenue Q.
“It was originally written and geared to the generations that grew up on Sesame Street, and programmes that utilised cartoon and puppets to teach you how to spell and count.
“The writers thought ‘Why isn’t there anything that teaches us how to do the things that we need to learn how to do when we are adults, so that we stop putting our feet into our mouths and learn how to get on in life...so that we can deal with sexual identity, racism and all those adult lessons we have to learn.’”
And contrary to the cute appearance of some puppets in the piece, this is not a show for kiddies.
Leave them at home...with a babysitter!
“At the beginning we had to figure out how to market it, because so many people wanted to bring their kids,” Evan laughs. “But it’s really not a show for them – there is a lot of bad language and it deals with contemporary issues...finding love, losing love and so many experiences that we all go through as we come of age.
“It also is truly very, very funny...”
Refreshingly, you won’t find any celebrities on board for this delivery. Simply, they aren’t necessary.
“This is a show that is very much an ensemble piece, so we have never gone down the star route. Simply because of the requirements. Puppeteering is not an easy skill to learn, and the actors have to do a lot of work.
“It’s a six-week process to learn how to do the show...it is a large time commitment, a large effort.
“I always say that when you are doing musical theatre you are looking for triple threads – people who can act, sing and dance.
“With this show, I am after the quadruple – acting, singing, dancing and puppeteering.”
There are 11 puppet characters in Avenue Q, but around 42 stuffed faces travelling in the Avenue Q entourage.
The reason is simple: “Puppets can’t make their own costume changes,” Evan laughs.
They don’t come cheap either, costing an average of around £2,000 each.
Evan has cast and directed this tour, and has been brand Avenue Q since the show opened on Broadway.
It is only one piece in a spectacularly successful career, though, which spans Les Miserables through to Rent and Jerry Springer – The Opera.
Evan just finished work on the Broadway production of Shrek, too.
“My career in New York is actually peculiar,” reasons the man who works just as frequently on this side of the pond these days.
“It is nice to have a solid career, but I am known for doing the edgy rock musical thing...though Phantom and Les Mis don’t fit into that. “I have been able to run a gamut which is really nice...”
Puppet power arrives on Monday and stays put at the venue until Saturday, April 23.
To book tickets for the multi-award-winning show with plenty of comic naughtiness, call 0844 871 7652.
Prices start at £11.50, rising to £29.50.