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X-RATED MUPPETS; Outrageous show is not for the easily offended.


THEY are outrageous, X-rated and 100 per cent puppet.

Avenue Q is heading to the Midlands and the very thought is probably enough to turn green muppet Kermit bright pink with embarrassment.

The musical comedy has been merrily spreading mischief, bad behaviour and political incorrectness on Broadway and in London's West End and is now touring the UK for the first time.

Characters like Lucy The Slut, Trekkie Monster and Bad Idea Bear might look like they could be wholesome residents of Sesame Street, but this is definitely not a show for the kiddies... these puppets mean business.

Witty, rude and extremely funny, Avenue Q director Evan Ensign says the idea behind the show was to help adults deal with dating, relationships and even racism problems.

"Sesame Street taught us to count and share our toys with friends when we were growing up, but there was nothing to teach us about adult problems like breaking up or sexual identity," says Evan. "Avenue Q was originally written as a TV series, but it soon became clear it was really a musical show."

The tale of a bright-eyed graduate trying to follow his dreams mixes a cast of humans and puppets has gone on to win several top awards including a Tony Award. Now the puppets and their human chums are about to be let loose in the Midlands.

"I'm looking forward to drinking, going out to nightclubs and maybe some one night stands," declares the deceptively innocentlooking Yellow Bear as she adjusts her pearls.

"Do you like my pretty white lace dress?" she goes on chattily. "Don't tell anyone, but I'm not a natural yellow. I dye my hair. Isn't that awful?" All the puppets claim to be the totally outrageous, but the gravel-voiced Trekkie Monster is arguably easily the natural holder of the title.

"I hear there's good broadband reception here," he growls. "There's 24 hours in the day and I'm on the internet about 22-plus. You can't beat internet porn."

Then, of course, there is the busty, bling-loving Lucy the Slut complete with her belly button piercing.

"She certainly lives up to her name," laughs Rachel Jerram, who brings Lucy to life. "She's a nightclub singer and outrageous and doesn't really care what anyone thinks. She's certainly a fun character to play. You can get away with a lot playing Lucy."

Each of the puppets costs around pounds 3,500 and the cast trained with experts to learn how to bring their co-stars to life.

Birmingham-born Matthew Henry plays one of the few human characters in Avenue Q and laughingly admits the puppets can be shocking. "Some people don't know what to make of them at first, but they are quickly won over. It's very tongue-in-cheek.

"My mother came and I didn't know if she was going to like it, but she couldn't stop laughing. It's that type of show."

Chris Thatcher says he even too his 86-year-old gran to see the show. "She loved it," he says as he turns to quickly confer with his Trekkie Monster friend. "Eh, is there any internet cafes around?" * Avenue Q opens at Birmingham Hippodrome on Tuesday for a week-long run. Box office 0844 338 5000.


HYSTERICAL: Some of the stars of the London version of Avenue Q NAUGHTY: Lucy The Slut and Trekkie Monster, two of the stars of Avenue Q
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:May 13, 2011
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