‘I’ is for information
What: “Avenue Q”
Where: Brunelle Performance Hall at DHS, 315 W. 14th St.
When: 7 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Nov. 2-3, and Thursday-Saturday, Nov. 8-10, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 4
Tickets: $16 general, $8 students
The Davis High School drama department will open its fall season at 7 p.m. Friday with the multi-Tony Award-winning musical, “Avenue Q,” in the Brunelle Performance Hall at DHS, 315 W. 14th St.
“Avenue Q,” which won the 2004 Tony Awards triple crown (Best Book, Score and Musical), was written by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx. The traditionally risqué play has been cleaned up to make it more appropriate for high schoolers and their families.
“This is the school edition, so we got it appropriate,” director Gwyn Bruch said, “and both (music director Bill) Zinn and I have made tiny but significant changes so that neither one of us is offended.”
Bruch insists that the changes are purely for the sake of wholesomeness and do not affect the plot and themes of the play.
“The subject matter is super-important. It’s just the offensive, rated-R stuff that is gone,” Bruch said.
The musical, set in an unnamed borough of New York City, follows Princeton, a college graduate with a B.A. in English and no work experience, as he struggles to find a job, an apartment and his purpose in life. Themes such as religion, race and gender are examined through scenes and songs like “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist.”
The 23-person ensemble cast will be using puppets to portray many of the characters. Princeton is played by DHS sophomore Cole Yambrovich, while DHS drama veteran, senior Megan Orr plays Kate, Princeton’s love interest. Many newcomers to the drama department, especially sophomores new to DHS, are participating.
“It’s really interesting to get a new, fresh round of people every year,” Orr said, “We’ve got really talented people.”
Other important characters include: Rod, an investment banker played by sophomore Utsav Barghava; Trekkie Monster, a reclusive social media addict played by juniors Clayton Johnston and Josh Garrett; and Gary Coleman, former child actor and building superintendent played by senior Nilesh Haile.
“We’ve got a great cast,” Yambrovich said, “People are pulling together and the show is coming out really well.”
While many characters are portrayed with puppets, some of whom require multiple people to operate effectively, some are portrayed by live actors. Gary Coleman is one of the few characters played by real people instead of puppets.
“They were going to put me on my knees with some shoes taped on, but it was very limited mobility,” Haile said.
The censorship of certain “mature” aspects of the show has been a point of contention for some.
“A few of my friends are not coming because they’ve seen the show before and they think that it’s not worth it,” Yambrovich said. “I think it’s still a great show. It’s just more family-oriented.”
Added Haile, “There were some instances where the censorship was unnecessary. We see this stuff every day anyway. It’s on our TVs. And some of the stuff that was taken out, it wasn’t even that profane.”
Others, like Orr, believe the censorship was necessary and doesn’t alter the content of the show.
“The original show does have a lot of really inappropriate themes. Obviously, since we’re a high school department, we had to kind of tone it down,” Orr said, “Still, a lot of the quirky, fun, edgy stuff is still there, just with less of the profanity.”
The show runs through Saturday, Nov. 10, with performances at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and Thursday through Saturday, Nov. 8-10, plus a 2 p.m. matinée Sunday. Tickets are $16 general admission, $8 for students and are available for purchase at dhsdrama.net and at the box office.