With Salt Lake City hosting the Utah Pride Festival, few people would think to head to Midvale, Utah for fabulous, queer-friendly theater. But Midvale Main Street Theatre is producing the adult-themed musical Avenue Q. The production will run May 30-June 15.
The theater is no stranger to controversial productions and hosted Rent last year and Sweeny Todd the year before. It has also hosted comedians Bobcat Goldthwait and Ray Romano.
“We’re going completely uncensored and sticking to the script without alterations,” said Ryan Fallis, who will be playing Rod, the closeted Republican. “Midvale Main Street Theatre is extremely welcoming to everyone. It’s a very safe place.”
Avenue Q is a sexually-charged spoof on Sesame Street and revolves around the main character, Princeton, who has just graduated from college with a degree in English. He moves into an apartment in New York City in the only neighborhood he can afford, on Avenue Q. There, Princeton and his neighbors cope with the struggles of real life. Most of the characters are puppets, and one of them is gay. Avenue Q was nominated for six Tony Awards in 2004 and won three: Best Musical, Best Original Score and Best Book of a Musical. The original cast recording was also nominated for a Grammy Award in 2005.
Actors must master the ins and outs of puppetry in just a short time as the official characters are rented. With just a few weeks to learn the parts, the production is a challenge, but Fallis said he hopes it’s a chance for people to see something new in a young venue.
“We’re trying to reach out to the other side of Salt Lake who is tired of seeing Joseph and Seven Brides. Avenue Q brings people in and hopefully introduces our theater to a new audience. The messages are really nice even though the musical is dirty, crass and raunchy,” he said. “These puppets are supposed to be alive and breathing. They’re facing the same problems as many of us and it’s perfect for the Pride season.”
Fallis, who is openly gay, said even though its community theater, it’s well done and very supportive of the queer community.
“The owner of the theater, Tammy Ross, is fantastic and is building an environment that’s accepting and celebrates diversity,” he said.
For more information and to purchase tickets, go to midvaletheatre.com