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'Avenue Q' Coming To Westport's Staples High School

Seniors Cara McNiff and Will Haskell play Gary Coleman and Princeton in Staples Players' Spring Main Stage production of "AVENUE Q" opening Friday, March 21.
Seniors Cara McNiff and Will Haskell play Gary Coleman and Princeton in Staples Players' Spring Main Stage production of "AVENUE Q" opening Friday, March 21. Photo Credit: Courtesy Staples Players
Rachel Corbally, Joe Badion and Jack Baylis prepare for the Spring Main stage opening of "AVENUE Q" at Staples High School on Friday, March 21.
Rachel Corbally, Joe Badion and Jack Baylis prepare for the Spring Main stage opening of "AVENUE Q" at Staples High School on Friday, March 21. Photo Credit: Courtesy Staples Players

WESTPORT, Conn. -- Westport's Staples Players are set to open the school edition of "Avenue Q" on Friday, March 21.

Performances for the musical featuring puppets will take place in the main stage theater at Staples High School at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 21, and Saturday, March 22, and 3 p.m. Saturday, March 22, and Sunday, March 23. The show features music and lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, book by Jeff Whitty and based on an original concept by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx.

"'Avenue Q' is a satirical laugh out loud musical that is performed with puppets and deals with the complexities and anxieties of entering adulthood," representatives said.

Some of the popular titles from the Tony Award-winning musical include “It Sucks To Be Me,” “If You Were Gay” and “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist.” "Avenue Q" won three Tony Awards, including best musical, best score and best book after opening in 2003.

"Directors Kerry Long and David Roth enlisted the help of famed puppeteers Rick Lyon and Pam Arciero to assist and teach the cast the art of working with and performing with the puppets," representatives said.

"Every show obviously presents new challenges - sometimes the set is extra complicated, sometimes there are heavy dancing requirements," Kerry Long said. “The challenge of 'Avenue Q' is, quite obviously, the puppetry. 'Avenue Q' requires a very specific style of puppetry, in which the actor operating the puppet is fully visible to the audience. The actor must create a fully cohesive performance with the puppet. This has been a huge challenge for the students - one that they have met with a lot of enthusiasm. Bringing the puppets to life is not as easy as it sounds - I think that when a lot of people think about puppets they think of a child's sock puppet. This is far from it - these puppets are professionally made, in a similar style to the puppets used in the original Broadway production.”

Senior Will Haskell plays the role of Princeton.

“Operating a puppet is far more difficult than I anticipated," he said. "I have so much new found appreciation for the skilled puppeteers that operate the famous puppets of Ernie, Bert, Elmo and Big Bird. I find the biggest challenge to be acting as a human alongside the puppet.

"I find myself watching the puppet act, but in 'Avenue Q,' the human operators are entirely visible. Therefore, we need to act and express ourselves in the same way the puppet is. The puppet truly does become a human, as we learn to make them breath, sigh, cry, sob, think, smile and laugh.”

Tickets are sold for $10 for students and $15 for adults at The Staples Players website and will also be sold at the door, as available, before the show.

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