SOUTH KINGSTOWN—Rotarians were in for quite the surprise at the Wakefield Rotary Club’s weekly luncheon last Thursday when a group of colorful and outspoken characters came walking into the room. Preston is a well-dressed loner. Lucy speaks her mind and knows she is beautiful. Trekkie monster loves, well, pornography. All of these characters are puppets from Avenue Q, the latest production by the Courthouse Center for the Arts.
The production, written by American playwright Jeff Whitty and first shown in New York City, has won four Tony Awards in previous years, including one for Best Musical. The Courthouse Center for the Arts’ show is the first in Rhode Island.
“We wanted to be the first in Rhode Island to do it,” said Richard Ericson, Executive Director at CCA. “When I saw it seven years ago, I thought that I was going to die from laughing so hard.”
Although Ericson does not want to give away too much information about the plot of Avenue Q, he hopes that the audience can connect in an engaging and hilarious way with its topic matter.
“I think it can relieve the winter doldrums, and people identify with it so much,” said Ericson. “The show deals with all our current thinking, such as the economy or people working together trying to get Congress to do something.”
“It is about all of us,” he added.
The actors in the show have gone through a rigorous rehearsal process in order to bring their puppeteering craft to the stage. CCA has brought the puppet coach from Avenue Q’s New York productions to work with the actors as they handle puppets for the first time.
“I have a lot of actors with achy arms right now because [the show] is a huge workout, a marathon,” said Ericson. “All but three have puppets, and two actors are using two puppets each. They never stop working.”
“I was sitting there at rehearsal and thinking that it is astonishing how these puppets can be so moving,” he added. “[The actors] have started every rehearsal with a 45 minute workout with the puppets to make them as responsive as they possibly can be. Watching the newcomers adapt to that has been very cool.”
If You Go
Avenue Q runs from February 16 to March 4, Thursday through Saturday at 7 p.m. and on Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 to $25 per person. For ticket purchase and further information, visit www.courthousearts.org  or call 401-782-1018.