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Raleigh
Avenue Q
Memorial Auditorium, Progress Energy CenterAvenue Q may be a Broadway show about puppets, but don't stop reading yet, you who loathe Lamb Chop and Hairspray: This show is aimed at adults and strikes a chord with adults who don't like spontaneous bursts of song.

Elaborating by phone from Louisville, ensemble member Maggie Lakis says, "The whole idea is for people who don't necessarily like musical theater. It's easier to accept a puppet breaking into song to teach a lesson."

Lakis calls it "Sesame Street for adults." Though not actually affiliated with the superstar Muppets of public television, Avenue Q uses the children's show as a launching point for more mature, humorous lessons, such as a phonetics primer for "commitment" in a relationship. The intended audience is signaled from the first song, "What Do You Do with a B.A. in English?," the story of a character called Princeton, a broke, single and unemployed recent college grad whose inflated post-college dreams are repeatedly challenged as he tries to survive.

The show isn't afraid to be provocative—one song is entitled "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist." The lead female puppet Kate Monster is a complete lady, right down to her nipples, which she reveals in an onstage sex scene. And the show's Cookie Monster counterpart, Trekkie Monster, lusts after Internet porn instead of cookies.

Lakis is an acting understudy for the show, and she also assists with the backstage puppetry. She remembers her amazement—early in her exposure to the craft—when she learned that puppets such as Kermit were actually controlled by two puppeteers—one for the mouth and one to move the arms. For more complex puppets, Lakis has to choreograph her movements with the main puppeteer—perhaps an easy task when a Sesame Street puppeteer is making Bert count bottle caps, but inevitably more interesting when your Avenue Q puppet is having an orgasm. Visit www.progressenergycenter.com, or call 831-6060 for more info. —Megan Stein

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