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Avenue Q

Adult-themed musical spoof of Sesame Street is hilarious, even if the plot is a little thin

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Through Sept. 2. Tickets are $30-90; call 512-7770 or visit www.shnsf.com.
Orpheum Theatre, 1192 Market (at Eighth Street), S.F.

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This delightfully crass musical sendup of Sesame Street is like Melrose Place with Muppets. A run-down brownstone at the outer limits of New York City hosts an ensemble of conflicted people and puppets, including a monster who loves Internet porn (instead of cookies), a Bertlike character who's secretly in love with his Ernielike roommate, and former child actor Gary Coleman (who, in a peculiar casting choice, is played by a woman, Carla Renata). The story begins with Princeton (Robert McClure), a recent college grad, arriving on Avenue Q singing, "What do you do with a B.A. in English?" and evolves into something of a love story between Princeton and Kate Monster (Kelli Preston). But the plot is almost superfluous. The songs are what give this Tony Award-winning show its bite, with lyrics like "Everyone's a little bit racist/ All right, all right/ Bigotry has never been exclusively white." It takes some time to get used to the actors being onstage with their puppets (imagine Frank Oz standing next to Miss Piggy mouthing, "Kermie!"). Eventually, though, you come to appreciate their presence — after all, the humans onstage can make funny facial expressions to further enhance the impact of the jokes. Anyone who grew up watching Sesame Street should enjoy this NC-17-rated version of the children's TV show. I mean, how could you not guffaw at the sight of two Muppets doing it doggy-style?

 
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