Posts Tagged ‘Avenue Q’

Adam, "Kate Monster", Anika Larsen

On Wednesday, January 19, 2011 I had the pleasure of attending a special blogger night at “Avenue Q,” the Tony Award Winning musical smash hit that is now playing Off-Broadway at New World Stages. What made this night so special was that after the show us bloggers were able to meet the cast and puppets of this hilarious, smart, and fun show. Enjoy the pictures throughout and video footage below of the cast talking about their experience in “Avenue Q.” It was a great night and I am so happy that I get to share this special experience with each and everyone of you!

I have seen “Avenue Q” multiple times now from the original cast Off-Broadway at The Vineyard Theatre to the Broadway run at the Golden to this current Off-Broadway run at New World Stages. Each time I’ve seen this show, it has been as enjoyable as my very first time. The producers were very wise and very forward-thinking by moving “Avenue Q” Off-Broadway after it closed on Broadway because this show is STILL GOING STRONG WITH “PURPOSE!!!” The brilliance of “Avenue Q” lies within the writing of both the book (by Jeff Whitty) and lyrics/music (by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx) as well as the casting of human actors and puppets. Everybody can identify with its universal theme of growing up and trying to make your way in this world and how to get through life’s difficulties. From love to moving out on your own to figuring out how you fit into this world, each theme gets addressed in a brilliantly humorous fashion.

Hazel Anne Raymundo & Adam

"Rod", Jonathan Root, & Adam

The cast should be applauded loudly for not only acting and singing on their own, but most are doing it simultaneously as their puppet character. For as many times as I’ve seen this show, I’m always amazed at how each actor brings their own spin to the character(s) they play. This time around was no exception. Jonathan Root who plays “Princeton/Rod” has probably brought the freshest spin to these roles while keeping true to his characters since John Tartaglia who originated the role. Jonathan’s inflection both in speaking and especially in song, made me feel as though this was the first time I’d seen something completely original from John’s creation. Jonathan’s blends his puppetry skills with his acting/vocals effortlessly perfect! I was also very impressed with Hazel Anne Raymundo who has also brought her own spin to the role of “Christmas Eve.” While she too, keeps true to the character, Hazel’s vocals are powerful and strong, making me want more. One of the most delightful surprises of the evening was that Anika Larsen, a fellow “Adaumbelle’s Quest” participant, came back to the role of “Kate Monster/Lucy The Slut” after being out of the show for a year and didn’t miss a beat! If you’ve never seen Anika Larsen in a show before, you should get yourself down to “Avenue Q” to check her out. Her vocal power is out of this world…one of the most controlled and powerful voices I’ve heard.

Still fun, fresh, hilarious, and most of all relatable, “Avenue Q” is a show to see…with a lover, a friend, family (though not for kids under 13), or by yourself! Come on down to New World Stages (340 West 50th Street) and enjoy an evening of laughter, puppets, and fun at “Avenue Q” for as low as $55 by entering code AQBLOG12 (discount valid through May 26, 2011) or use this code at the box office.

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No matter the medium, Tony Award Nominee, John Tartaglia is the guy you need to grab your audience. John originated the role of “Rod/Princeton” in “Avenue Q” which premiered Off-Broadway at the Vineyard Theatre before moving to Broadway in 2003 (where it won the Tony Award for Best Musical and John received a Tony Award Nomination for Best Actor). He then went on to star in Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” on Broadway as “Lumiere” as well as “Pinocchio” in Broadway’s “Shrek The Musical.” He has been the host of the New York Philharmonic Young People’s Concert as well as Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS’ “The Leading Men Concert.” John’s one man show, “Ad-Liberty,” enjoyed a sold-out run at Joe’s Pub in 2005. Prior to theatre, John was one of the youngest puppeteers to perform on “Sesame Street,” starting at the age of 16 and continuing for the next 10 years. He has also starred in “Sesame English,” which currently airs worldwide, is an innovative workshop created by Sesame to teach non-English-speaking children conversational English in a fun, exciting, and interesting context. John created, produced, and starred in the popular children’s show “Johnny and the Sprites” on the Disney Channel as well as appearances on Disney’s “Bear in the Big Blue House,” “JoJo’s Circus,” and Discovery Channel’s “Animal Jam.”

Now John has taken his puppetry, theatrical, and producing skills to a new level of greatness as the writer, creator, and producer of “Imaginocean,” a brand-new live puppetry show for kids (and adults) of all ages. “Imaginocean” is a one-of-a-kind live black-light puppet show which takes the audience on an undersea adventure. Join “Tank,” “Bubbles,” “Dorsel,” and their three best fish friends as they set out on a journey of discovery. What they discover on this magical adventure is the true meaning of friendship! “Imaginocean” plays at New World Stages in New York City (340 West 50th Street).

What makes this interview so special to me is that in 2005, I was fortunate enough to take John Tartaglia’s Master Puppetry Class (co-taught by Leo Diagnault). I literally signed up because I thought how great would it be to take a class taught by John Taraglia. What transpired was being taught by one (actually two, because Leo was so amazing) of the smartest, dedicated, and caring individuals I have ever met. Since starting this blog, John has been one of the people I wanted to interview and after months of planning, it finally happened! I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did conducting it!

1.  Who inspired you to become a performer? There are a lot of things that inspire me, but the two strongest inspirations inspirations would be my mom and my grandma because they both are performers and I grew up going to see them in shows.

2. What is the highest and lowest note you can sing? In my regular voice it would be an “A” as far as the highest. As far as the lowest, I’m not exactly sure, but in school, I was trained for a while as a bass, so I know my lowest is pretty low. In my falsetto, I can go really, really high. We did some “Shrek” event and one of the people in the show double dared me to hit a note higher than I ever hit before and I hit it. He told me at the time what the note was, but I don’t remember now, but I know I have a really high rock falsetto and it’s come in handy a couple of times.

3. Who is the one person that you haven’t worked with that you would like to? Oooh, that’s a really great question. Ellen DeGeneres. I adore her. I think she’s brilliant. I’ve been told I have a very similar sense of humor to hers. I just respect her so much for so many things she’s done. I’d also love to work with Betty White.

4. Is there ever a time you thought about quitting? If so, what career would you choose? I have thought about quitting at times. This business is wonderful and amazing and there are so many great parts, but when you are in the public eye, it can really be hard and hurtful when people say things that are really harsh or you just lose your confidence or something doesn’t work out the way you thought it would and you think you’ll never work again, so there’s definitely times I thought about quitting, but I’m glad I didn’t. If I wasn’t a performer, I think I’d be a teacher or work with animals because I’m very passionate about education for kids and I’m a huge, huge animal lover.

5. Do you have any strange or unusual talent that no one knows about? I have this weird thing I can do where I can put a plastic bottle cap in my mouth against my teeth and click it and by changing the space in my mouth I can make it sound musical.

6. Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts? What do you order? Totally Starbucks. I’m kind of obsessed with Carmel Macchiatos, but during the winter my favorite thing is a Gingerbread Latte. I also love the Huevos Rancheros Wrap that they have.

7. Favorite item off the $1 menu? I’m such a sucker for fries. Even when I’m trying to eat healthy, I always find an excuse for fries.

8. Favorite way to stay in shape? I’m one of those people that need to find a reason to go to the gym because I’m just not naturally drawn to it, but the thing I get the most enjoyment out of is swimming because it doesn’t feel like a work out, it just feels like I’m having fun.

9. Boxers or Briefs? I like briefs, though I try to avoid the tighty-whities, but I’m a victim of those sometimes too, I will not lie. I’ve never been able to do the boxers. I think there’s a skill that goes with that.

10. Favorite website? I’m a huge fan of Disney and Disney Theme parks, so I find myself going to the Disney Theme Park nerd website a lot where everyone goes on message boards and talks about what’s going on at the theme parks. The website is called wdwmagic.com. I love it!

11. Superman or Wonder Woman? For the crush factor is Superman, but I kind of love the toughness and kick-ass style of Wonder Woman.


12. Favorite ride at an amusement park? All my Disney friends are going to hate me for this, but, it used to be Tower of Terror at Hollywood Studios in Disney, but I just had the pleasure of going on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey at Universal. It’s the most unbelievable ride I’ve ever ridden in my life.

13. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve read about yourself and where did you read it? A friend of mine was writing a bio up for me for a show I was doing and he went to my Wikipedia page (I didn’t even know I had a Wikipedia page, but I guess someone made it for me) and he said I think you should go to your Wikipedia page because somebody wrote something about you that I’m not sure is true. I said okay…so someone had gone to my Wikipedia page and wrote that he and I were living together in Hell’s Kitchen and he was my boyfriend of like four years. First I was like “Oh my God” and then I thought that was kind of sweet, but it was very funny.

14. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? “The person who you stand above today is the person you’ll stand below tomorrow.” My mom taught me very strongly and at an early age that you treat everyone the same and you treat everyone the way you want to be treated. I’m glad I learned that and that I apply that because there’s certainly been times where someone was an intern on a show and a few years later they’re producing something and I think Thank God I was kind to them and I wasn’t like oh you’re just an intern or a PA, because those are the people who are going to run the world. I see a lot of my peers not stay true to that and pay for it later.

15. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? It would be my partner Michael. He’s really amazing and been so good to me.

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This contest is now over and today’s winner is Amanda! Congratulations Amanda! Stay tuned to next week’s contest and who knows, the winner just might be you! This weekend is all about the Tony Awards, so today’s “Free Stuff Friday” is a collection of mugs from 3 Tony Award Winning Shows: “Avenue Q,” “In The Heights,” and “Rent.” One reader, at random, will win all three mugs if you answer this question. The winner will be announced at 5pm! Good luck…

If you could have attended any Tony Awards ceremony, which year would you have attended?

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Be sure to catch fellow “Adaumbelle’s Quest” participant Ann Harada in “Christmas Eve with Christmas Eve” on Monday, December 14. Watch Ann bring “Christmas Eve” (the role she originated in the Tony Award Winning Broadway Show “Avenue Q“) back for one night only in a benefit for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Showtime is 7pm at The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space @ WNYC, 44 Charlton Street at Varick.

Special guests include: fellow “Adaumbelle’s Quest” participant Andy Karl along with John Tartaglia (“Avenue Q” original “Rod/Princeton”), Raul Esparza, Christopher Sieber, and Norm Lewis.

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AveQNWS_Rosegg4-OB693Anika Larsen has a gift, besides her acting, that she bestows upon theatre audiences nightly…her  supreme voice. She has a way to hit all the right notes and when needed belt them out of this world. Most recently Anika wrote and performed in “Shafrika, The White Girl,” an autobiographical musical about growing up with nine siblings of different races. Anika’s other theatrical credits include Broadway’s “Xanadu,” “All Shook Up,” “Rent,” and Off-Broadway’s “Zanna, Don’t!” She holds a B.A. in Theatre from Yale and is a proud member of Actors’ Equity. Anika is also the Co-founder of Jaradoa Theater, which serves the community through performance-based outreach. Visit them at www.jaradoatheater.org. Currently, Anika can been seen in the Tony Award Winning Musical “Avenue Q” at The New World Stages as “Kate Monster/Lucy.”

1. Who inspired you to become a performer? My 9 brothers and sisters inspired me to be a performer, because I figured out early on that singing loud was the best way for me to get attention in my house.

2. What is the highest and lowest note you can sing? I don’t know. I probably should, but I think deciding where your high and low are can psych you out. If you’re too aware that you’re singing near your limits, your mind might decide you can’t sing a note your voice actually can. I just sing what they tell me to sing.

3. What is the best advice you’ve given someone, but not taken for yourself? Choose your personal life (your family, your friends, your happiness) over your career. I’m trying to do that more, but historically I’ve been bad at it. I’ll bet a lot of us in this biz are.

4. Out of all the people you’ve worked with, who did you learn the most from? My first Equity gig was Rent in L.A., and that cast taught me a tremendous amount about the logistics of the theater business, and about the kind of professional I want to be.

5. Who is the one person you haven’t worked with that you would like to? My friend Catherine Brunell is hugely talented, but also one of the most genuine, generous, delightful people I know in this business. She’s in Mary Poppins now. We met when we were doing different musicals up at the Goodspeed, and we bonded watching Red Sox games after our respective shows. We’ve been great friends ever since, but we’ve never actually worked together–I wanna do a show with her!

6. Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts? What do you order? I don’t drink coffee, and I try to avoid big chains. If I was meeting someone for “coffee”, I’d get green tea at an independent coffee spot like The Coffee Pot. (Hey, that rhymed at the end!)

7. Favorite skin care product? I love my Cover Girl CG Smoother Tinted Moisturizer. It’s lotion with foundation in it, and it’s cheap.

8. Favorite play/musical? Asking for one favorite is kind of a ridiculous thing to do. But I’ve seen In the Heights seven times. I’ve never seen a show seven times. So that must mean something.

9. Favorite website? www.jaradoatheater.org

10. Superman or Wonder Woman? Wonder Woman. Better theme song.

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Avenue QI went to see the Tony Award Winning show “Avenue Q” for the first time since it moved back Off-Broadway. Well, I’m pleased to say it still is as enjoyable as ever and it’s nice to see the show continue on. Playing to an almost packed house, the new cast is great bringing their own spin to the characters while still retaining the core essence of the original cast. What made tonight’s show more special was what I feel makes live theatre so great…Sala Iw Amatsu who normally plays “Christmas Eve” started the show off and by the time her next scene came (about 3 songs into the show), her understudy, Ruthie Ann Miles was playing the part of “Christmas Eve.” Ruthie didn’t miss a beat, picking up right where she was supposed to…kudos to her and the whole cast for adapting so quickly to the change.  Jed Resnick, who is the understudy for “Rod/Princeton” was also in the show tonight. He was great…very cute with a delightful voice and strong puppetry skills. Anika Larsen is an actress with a big beautiful voice who plays the role of “Kate Monster/Lucy” with the ability to control her voice perfectly…giving us the innocence of  “Kate Monster” and the sultriness of “Lucy” right on cue and sometimes that is with-in seconds.  Nicholas Kohn plays “Brian” with just the right amount of cockiness that everyone can feel they know someone like him. Danielle K. Thomas gives a fine performance as “Gary Coleman” capitalizing on her comedic talents and big smile.  Maggie Lakis shows off her explosive personality and charisma as she plays “Bad Idea Bear #1/Mrs. T . Cullen R. Titmas demonstrates his multi-talents playing “Nicky/Trekkie Monster/Bad Idea Bear.”  If you have never seen “Avenue Q” now is the time and if you have seen it time and time again, treat yourself to an enjoyable evening at The New World Stages. (340 West 50th Street, between 8th & 9th Ave in NYC).

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Ann HaradaBroadway star Ann Harada originated the role of “Christmas Eve” in the Tony Award winning Broadway show “Avenue Q”.  Ann also starred in the Broadway Revival of “Les Miserable” as Madame Thernardier, using her impeccable comedic talents, she made the role her own. Be sure to catch Ann this Spring (2009) on Broadway in the new musical “9 to 5”.

1. Who inspired you to become a performer? Judy Garland and Angela Lansbury.

2. What was your first professional performance? WORKING at the Boothbay Harbor Dinner Theatre. I was the Waitress.

3. What is the highest and lowest note you can sing? High C, but not prettily and low C, but not prettily.

4. Favorite Play? The Life and Times of Nicholas Nickleby.

5. What kind of skin care products do you use? I don’t understand the relevance of this question Your Honor, but Creme de La Mer, when I can afford it and Boots moisturizer (available at Target) when I cannot.

6. What are your favorite shoes? Saucony Jazz sneakers.

7. Superman or Wonder Woman? Wonder Woman.

8. Favorite Talk Show Host? Mike Douglas. oh you mean now? Letterman.

9. Favorite celebrity gossip website? I don’t read celebrity gossip online.  I prefer reading magazines at doctors offices and nail salons.

10. Favorite Animal? Bunny rabbit.

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