Millennial Theatre Adds Performances of ‘Avenue Q’
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – With two nights already sold out, Millennial Theatre Company has added two performances to its run of “Avenue Q” before the show has even started.
The Mahoning Valley premiere of the hit comic musical will open Friday, Jan. 20, at The Hopewell Theatre, 702 Mahoning Ave.
The originally scheduled performances are at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 20, 21, 27 and 28; and 2 p.m. Jan. 22 and 29. The added performances are at 2 p.m. Jan. 28 and 7:30 p.m. Jan. 29.
The Jan. 20 and 21 performances are already sold out.
“Avenue Q” won the Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book in 2004.
Using a cast that includes puppets, it tells the story of a recent college grad named Princeton who moves into a shabby New York apartment all the way out on Avenue Q. He soon discovers that, although the residents seem nice, it’s clear that this is not your ordinary neighborhood.
Together, Princeton and his new-found friends struggle to find jobs, dates and their ever-elusive purpose in life. Although the show has many parallels to the children’s show “Sesame Street,” it addresses adult issues. The show is R rated and is not appropriate for young audiences.
Joe Asente, Millennial Theater Company artistic director, said “Avenue Q” is a perfect fit for his theater.
“MTC has made a name for itself producing shows that have universal appeal, while addressing issues that are relevant for young adult audiences,” Asente said. “This show, which parodies the educational children’s show ‘Sesame Street’, continues that trend by addressing issues that are pressing for today’s young adults. ‘Sesame Street’ taught us our ABCs and 123s, and ‘Avenue Q’ teaches us about racism, what to do after college, love, finding your purpose in life, relationships and, perhaps, even the need to clear your internet search history.”
The musical has been on MTC’s short list for some time.
“While this show is light and fun, it has definitely been a challenge to bring to the stage,” Asente said.
It features 18 puppets, all hand-crafted by local puppet designer Lynn Ohle.
“We have been interested in doing this show for quite some time, but the puppets have always been daunting for us,” Asente said. “When I met Lynn while doing ‘Rocky Horror’ in 2021, she mentioned that she was a puppet maker, and I knew that was the excuse we have been waiting for to stage this show.”
Working with puppets on stage can pose problems, and Asente said it created quite a few new challenges for him and his actors.
“I am very fortunate to have a talented core of actors who return, show after show,” he said. “They know my process and my expectations, so there is a certain foundation that is already built when we begin a rehearsal. However, with the addition of puppets, I had to go over every single basic rule of theater because nothing was intuitive anymore.”
The cast includes Ryan Lamb, Sarahh Kinser, Ben Doss, Bernadette Lim, Ryan Stewart, Grayson McCrory, George Maillis, Brianna Rae Quinn, Ty Hanes, Tyler Stouffer, Gene Metro, Marissa Snyder, Daniel Chiaberta and Briana Wagner-Matijevic. Asente is the director and music director.
Tickets are $20 and available online at millennialtheatre.org.
Pictured at top: Daniel Chiaberta and George Maillis are part of the cast of Millennial Theatre Company’s production of “Avenue Q.”
Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.