This event has now passed.From Mamma Mia, to Cats to… Avenue Q? The latest major Mandarin musical to hit Beijing is refreshing, surprising and maybe the most fitting choice yet. Avenue Q tells the story of Princeton, a university grad with an English degree who – gasp! – can’t find a job. He lives in a shabby apartment surrounded by colourful human and puppet neighbours such as Trekkie Monster, the Bad Idea Bears and Lucy the Slut. Avenue Q is an adult take on the hugely popular children’s television series Sesame Street, which teaches young viewers how hard work leads to success – at least until they grow up and learn the truth. ‘Avenue Q shows that one can be honest and diligent and still encounter wild confusions and deeply unsettling failures,’ says director Joe Graves. ‘Chinese [young people] will identify with others who have not achieved what society suggests we should achieve by certain ages.’
Graves has reset the story, expressions, references and character names all in China, but he’s confident that the core of the musical remains. ‘Avenue Q tells about a group of struggling twenty-something adults holding on to dreams of love and security in a world that can be loveless and insecure,’ he says. ‘That [the musical] explores such subjects with genuine sweetness, light-heartedness and charm is why the production will resonate in China.’ Oddly, given the risqué content, the censorship board stayed quiet, green-lighting the musical number ‘The Internet Is For Porn’ and even giving eleventh-hour approval to Avenue Q classic ‘You Can Be As Loud As The Hell You Want (When You’re Making Love)’, a song that Graves terms the ‘puppet-f**king number’. After all, puppets are people too!
*This show will be in Mandarin