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Avenue Q a hit at NCC

An audience of over 200 people honored the student cast of “Avenue Q, the Musical” with a standing ovation after their performance in Lipkin theatre on Saturday night.
Presented by Northampton Community College as part of the fall theater program, the comedy production was based on the book by Jeff Whitty; using puppets, music and X-rated humor to offer a mischievous look at the lives of a group of 20-somethings fresh out of college.
The original stage production of the show was conceived by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx in 2002, and has racked up international acclaim as one of the longest running Broadway shows in history. Northampton is the first college in Pennsylvania to produce its own version.
NCC’s own Bill Mutimer (Assistant Professor, Theater Communications) directed and choreographed the 3 human characters and 9 puppets, which interact as humans and are voiced and manipulated by live on-stage actors.
“I think this was one of those shows where the planets really aligned,” said Mutimer.
“The cast had never worked with puppets before, but they worked really hard to create these characters and to create this world,” he added.
The student actors behind the puppets had to employ a wide and impressive range of voices and movement to portray the personalities of their characters.
“The hardest part of working with the puppets is trying to hit every syllable to make the character come alive,” said Braxton White, a General Studies major and the voice and live-hand of Rod in the production.
“The audience is supposed to be looking at the puppet and not us, so we fade into the background and make their emotions come to life,” he added.
The show followed the developing romance of puppets Princeton and Kate Monster, voiced by Sawyer Long and Theatre major Brenna Norlander.
The cast had 8 weeks to rehearse before their opening night on Oct. 23, and belted out 19 songs in the 140 minute show including “The Internet is for Porn”, “I’m Not Wearing Underwear Today” and “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist.”
Erika Tohlman, backstage crew, said “Working on this production gave me a good sense of community, this theater feels like one big family.”
Next on the bill for NCC’s Theatre department is The Importance of Being Earnest, directed by Laura Johnson, which premieres in November. Admission to all NCC Theatre Department performances is free with the donation of non-perishable food items or a donation to the Norman Roberts Scholarship Fund.