The University of South Dakota theater department will bring puppets to the stage for its fall musical.
“Avenue Q: The Musical,” the Broadway sensation being shown on stages all over the country will hit the USD campus Dec. 1-3.
Matt Nesmith, stage and musical director, said “Avenue Q” should leave students humming the songs, smiling and laughing.
“It fits a college scene pretty well,” Nesmith said. “All of it is done from a very contemporary, humorous point of view.”
The musical follows characters as they figure out their purpose in life after graduating from college, Nesmith said.
“It’s about what to do when your love life goes astray, when there are bills to pay and just dealing with shortcomings,” Nesmith said.
Nesmith said it resonates well with college students.
“It has college adult humor,” Nesmith said. “The kind of humor you would hear daily on a college campus. It’s just really funny, and, at the end of the day, I think that’s what keeps audiences coming back.”
Nesmith said “Avenue Q” has been very popular on Broadway.
“It’s just a show in which the popularity continually grows,” Nesmith said. “And we wanted to be one of the first to do it in this region.”
“Avenue Q” is different in its humor and the use of puppets in the production, Nesmith said.
“It was a great opportunity for our students to learn a whole new skill set,” Nesmith said. “Learning to use the puppets has been challenging but rewarding as well.”
Junior Eleanor Petersen, who plays Kate Monster in the musical, said learning the art of puppeteering was interesting when discovering all of the important aspects of it.
“You have to focus and really control your breathing to keep the puppet alive and engaged,” Peterson said.
Petersen said as an actress, she’s used to being the person the audience is looking at.
“I’ve had to get used to having an item on stage that the audience is paying attention to,” Petersen said.
Petersen said the cast had help learning the techniques of puppeteering from a member of the original cast as well as USD alumnus Doug Stritch, who has a puppet show in New York City.
“They gave us tips on what to change and suggestions on how to make it more realistic,” Petersen said. “It was amazing having that help.”
Nesmith said the musical is interesting because it is told from the viewpoint of the puppets.
“We relate puppets back to childhood,” Nesmith said. “When we see these kinds of things through the eyes of a puppet, it’s like a fresh take.”
Nesmith said students should attend the musical for a laugh, but also for a bit of nostalgia.
“The puppets are in the style of ‘Sesame Street’ puppets,” Nesmith said. “You can only imagine what if Kermit and all those other puppets were grown up.”
Nesmith said the musical is kind of like a combination of a Meg Ryan and Adam Sandler movie.
“It’s an honest, sweet love story, but it has a little humor in it, too,” Nesmith said.
Petersen said the production is hilarious and relatable to college students.
“It’s the right amount of raunchy humor mixed with regular humor and some seriousness,” Petersen said.
Petersen said she thinks the cast is in a good place right now.
“Because of how energetic and upbeat the show is, we’ve all felt really energetic throughout rehearsals,” Petersen said.
Petersen said she hopes students enjoy the show because of how
relatable it is.
“It’s a show about life and the struggles that we go through, finding jobs after college and messy relationships,” Petersen said. “But we have puppets, which makes it funnier and more entertaining.”
Reach reporter Payton Randle at Payton.Randle@usd.edu.