Top Notch “Avenue Q” by Stagecrafters, Royal Oak (review)


You know, just when you think you’ve seen the ultimate regional production of Avenue Q (and I’m talking about the Croswell Opera House two years ago) along comes a near perfect gem at Royal Oak’s Stagecrafters proving one wrong.

What a thrill when everything comes together just right for a show: gorgeous set work; perfect lighting: top-notch sound design; spot-on projection work; and a simply spectacular cast.

Leading the production is Kevin Kaminski, the perfect Princeton. Kaminski is quickly becoming one of the most sought-after young singer/actors in SE Michigan and this performance is a good example of why. Right on his heels, are great performances by Hilary Dudek as Kate Monster, and a stunning Nicky played by Jeff LaMothe whose physical and voice work is outstanding.

The humans on this Avenue Q are played by Tom Pagano as Brian, Lynette Yeager as Christmas Eve (where are you Asian American actresses? I have yet to see a single Asian American actress play this role — an Asian American — in any of the seven or eight productions I have now seen locally), and Michael Adams as Gary Coleman. Rounding out the cast are Christopher Smith as Rod (His “My Girlfriend who Lives in Canada” is sharp and diction-perfect), Matthew Dudek as Trekkie Monster (his antics in the nightclub are hilarious!), Sara Rydzewski as the perfect Lucy the Slut, Jenny Boyle as Mrs Thistletwat; and Brian Moultrup and Kellie Kafantaris as the hilarious Bad Idea Bears.

The entire production is energetically directed by Deborah Landis-Sigler. Musical Director Debbie Tedrick has done a great job with the vocals and diction, and her 7-piece orchestra sounds full and well-drilled. Sound design is wonderful. If you haven’t seen a production in the Baldwin Theater in Royal Oak, then you don’t know how difficult a task is to make sound, lighting, and video work in a space that was built in 1922. The tech work is terrific in this production.

Congratulations to Stagecrafters on a truly remarkable production.

Note that Avenue Q is not for younger humans. It isn’t even for some older humans. Take all the warnings on their posters at face value. For the rest of us, it is a hilarious show with a lot of heart, and this production is first rate.

Very Highly Recommended.

Stagecrafters’ Avenue Q continues at the Baldwin Theatre in Royal Oak through February 7th. All remaining performances are sold out.

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