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Preview: 'Avenue Q'

Broadway San Jose brings the profane puppets of Broadway's hit to the valley

NOTHING guarantees a good time like racist puppets. Well, they’re not really racist, just a little bit. As they themselves like to sing, it doesn’t mean they go around committing hate crimes. No, the puppets in Avenue Q mostly like to go to monster school, read totally gay books and sing songs like “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist,” “If You Were Gay” and “The Internet Is for Porn.” And of course, they run all over the stage with actors’ arms up their asses, which is how they get around.

For those unfamiliar with Avenue Q, it’s sort of like Sesame Street on acid. The Tony Award–winning musical by Richard Lopez and Jeff Marx is being presented by Broadway San Jose Jan. 12–17. Set in an outer borough of New York City and featuring several characters obviously modeled on familiar Sesame Street characters like Bert, Ernie and Cookie Monster, the show basically imagines what would happen if Jim Henson’s classic kid’s program had been aimed at whiny, fairly crass young adults. Instead of learning math, these puppets have to find apartments. Instead of sounding out the alphabet, they swear up a storm. Songs like “It Sucks to Be Me” and “My Girlfriend, Who Lives in Canada” would have made great emo songs, if Broadway hadn’t snatched them up first. After six years, Avenue Q recently closed on Broadway. Sadly, in this traveling version the role of former child star Gary Coleman is not played by the actual Gary Coleman—and never was. In fact, Coleman threatened to sue the show’s producers a few years ago but never did. Until then, his namesake will be forever fixin’ toilets on Avenue Q.

AVENUE Q runs Jan. 12–17: Tuesday–Thursday at 7:30pm, Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 2 and 8pm and Sunday at 1 and 6pm through Jan. 17 at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts, 255 Almaden Blvd., San Jose. Tickets are $20–$70. (408.792.4111)