Lights, set, music… Curtain going up Oct. 12 for Avenue Q: The Musical

By Noah Genson, Staff Writer –

Avenue Q isn’t an ordinary play. With more than half of the characters being puppets,

what the audience sees on stage may seem a little strange.

But a lot goes into the lighting as well as designing and building a set that is able to

present both the humans and puppets.

Brian Goodman, scenic artist for this production, has been working at MCC for 20 years

and said that this is one of the biggest challenges he has faced.

“There is a huge difference creating the sets for this play than any others I have worked

on,” he said. “We have to make sure everything can blend together seamlessly.”

While watching some versions of the play, he said one of the roadblocks he observed was

how to place puppets in certain positions.

“For some of the play, the puppets are sitting down or lying in bed” he said. “As a crew,

we had to figure out a way to place the puppets in a way that the entire audience will be able to

see them, but also believe they are lying in bed.”

The sets aren’t the only things that can be a problem to create.

“While creating the props, we have to keep in mind, like we do with everything, that

there are puppets on stage.” Goodman said. “So, if one of the puppets is talking on the phone

with a human character, then two different sized phones need to be made.”

Like all good plays, though, comedic relief is important.

“In some parts of the play the human characters and the puppets interact with each other,”

he said, “and when that happens, there could be a chance that the puppet grabs something that is

human size. It’s all a part of the production.”

One of the things he really enjoys about working on these plays is getting the chance to

work with young artists trying to learn what goes on behind the scenes.

“They are like little wicks,” he said. “They just soak everything up. Normally when you

work with an older crowd, they all have their ways that they like to do things and a lot of ideas

get shot down. With these kids, we are able to try new things and learn from mistakes. There is

some teaching involved but that is why we do this.”

Set designer Tom Harryman also had his work cut out for him. He designed the façade of

the buildings and most of the rolling units. From there, he hands the plans to Goodman, who

creates the sets.

Like any play, Avenue Q has no shortage of problems that need to be addressed.

“This is a big production for our theater,” he said. “Probably the biggest hurdles are

where to put the musical ensemble because we do not have an orchestra pit, sound reinforcement

of the singers, and how to design for the puppet work. Coordinating all of these in a relatively

short rehearsal and tech period is a challenge.”

Harryman also works with the lighting and sound.

“Typically, they are added toward the end of the rehearsal period when the blocking of

the show has been completed,” he said. “It’s a pretty complicated process that continues up until

opening night.”

In the short amount of time given to create the entire ensemble, stress can get to anybody.

“You have to laugh,” said Goodman. “If mistakes are made and everybody starts pointing

fingers and yelling at each other, the stress starts to build up and nothing good happens from

there. Thankfully, we don’t have that problem.”

Avenue Q opens Wednesday, Oct.12, and will run through Sunday, Oct.16, at Overbrook

Theater.

 

Featured Image: Working on constructing of the set of Avenue Q are (from left) Allison Gilde, Hannah Erdman, Clare Beaman, Aidan Smith, and Kiara DeJong. The play runs Wednesday, Oct. 12 through Sunday, Oct. 16 in Overbrook Theater. Tickets are $10 for the public and $5 for MCC students. The play is recommended for mature audiences due to language, content, and puppet nudity. – Photo by Grace Dowling

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