It seems like only yesterday I saw Stuart’s post on Facebook to say that Harlequin’s next show was to be Avenue Q, but now next Wednesday sees us starting a five show run at Aberdeen’s Arts Centre.
It’s been a difficult, interesting, challenging and funny six months with twice weekly rehearsals taking us through the shows, lines and songs of this Tony Award winning musical with a healthy dose of racism, homophobia and sex. And that’s just the cast and production team. When I was cast as Nicky, the “Ernie” of the grown up version of Sesame Street, I thought it would be good fun and a new challenge but I don’t think I realised just how much work it would involve.
It’s not so much learning the lines that is the problem (although I’m not always the best at remembering them) it’s the combination of acting, singing, delivering lines, putting on the character voice and moving you then have to do almost everything again with the puppet. It’s that duality of personality that makes it tough and I know for me that has been the sticking point trying to divide myself and while working in tandem with the puppet you also must do it independently and not interact with him. Some of the cast are fantastic at it and it just takes practise – otherwise you remember the line but forget to move, or you move and the puppet is gliding rather than walking. Pat your head, rub your tummy and recite the alphabet backwards for a couple of hours and you’re close to where I am!
What have I learned through this is that I have enjoyed the creative aspect of the show and learning a new way of working, learning harmonies rather than “finding them” through listening. Working as part of an ensemble rather than a solo artist and the interaction level different to that of my time in the band. Then it was a case of listening to each other and working off each other – here you have to do that but also have to physically interact too. Also in the band I had the reins and controlled the flow, pace and order of the evening and this is very precise and needs attention to detail I’m not used to.
Would I do another show? I really don’t know is the honest answer because I have struggled a lot with some aspects of the performance. Perhaps being on the other side of the stage appeals more and looking at writing or directing instead of performing. Saying that, there is a temptation to write and perform something myself but that will take a lot of time to work on and try out before I make the public suffer! I can’t see me doing another musical in the near future as Avenue Q is a one off type of show and the appeal of it was that uniqueness – but never say never.
The great news that we have sold out two of the nights already and the other two nights have around fifty tickets left for each performance – the matinée is a bonus performance on the Saturday but we’re even shifting a good level of tickets for that. It’s good to see that there is a demand for the show and that so many people know and like it, but also I’ve had several people interested in the performance aspect and want to see the skills and abilities of the actors as puppeteers too – so no pressure then.
Avenue Q is on at Aberdeen’s Arts Centre Theatre from Wed 19th Feb until Sat 22nd Feb with Tickets starting at only £11. See http://www.aberdeenperformingarts.com/events/avenue-q to try to snap up the last of the tickets for this brilliant show.