‘Avenue Q’ drives right up the profane collegiate alley

Puppets can teach lessons to adults, too, as a group of plush creatures sings about finding purpose and making sweet love in “Avenue Q.” The Tony Award-winning musical by Robert Lopez, Jeff Marx and Jeff Whitty opened Tuesday, Feb. 13, at the Fabulous Fox Theatre to a raucous crowd of adults.

Jason Moore directs an engaging cast of both living and artificially constructed actors. Idealistic recent college grad Princeton (Robert McClure) moves to New York City borough Avenue Q, a neighborhood with an interesting group of residents, including his building superintendent, Gary Coleman (played by Carla Renata).

When Princeton loses his job before his first day due to “downsizing,” the adorable, yet dangerous, pastel Bad Idea Bears show up and tell him that his problems will be solved if he buys a case of beer-a case, not a six-pack, as they inform him that he’ll save more money in the long run this way. Intoxication leads to a love connection with neighbor Kate Monster (the lovely Kelli Sawyer), a kindergarten teaching assistant who dreams of opening her own school for monsters.

Princeton is overwhelmed after sleeping with Kate-a graphic sex scene, particularly for puppets, set to the musical stylings of Gary Coleman in “You Can Be As Loud As the Hell You Want (When You’re Makin’ Love).” He tells her that a commitment is more than he can handle, and his life quickly goes down the tubes.

Without a job, without Kate’s friendship and with only a B.A. in English to his name, Princeton isolates himself in his apartment. He laments his misfortune in “I Wish I Could Go Back to College,” recalling writing a final paper in the computer lab with the rest of the class the night before its due date.

Rounding out the cast are wannabe-comedian Brian, his fiancé Christmas Eve, roommates Rod and Nicky, pervert Trekkie Monster and the Mae West-type Lucy. The friends unite as they grapple with their lives post-college, slowly realizing that the hard work didn’t end when they tossed their tassled caps into the air.

It’s important to note that this show is strictly for adults, though its resemblance to a certain classic children’s TV show may lead one to believe otherwise. The comparisons end with puppets. Puppeteers onstage soon blend into the background as the puppets sing their profanity-riddled tunes. These creatures aren’t lecturing about how to make friends: They’re praising Internet pornography, telling racist jokes and accepting their gay friend’s pastimes.

Perhaps this is the education that adults need, the puppets posit, singing, “If we all could just admit that we are racist a little bit, even though we all know that it’s wrong, maybe it would help us get along.”

For the college crowd, the point that most profoundly hits home is that life after college is the difficult part.

“In college, you know who you are,” the characters sing. “You sit in the Quad and think, ‘Oh my God! I am totally gonna go far!'”

This is the time to drop a class, change a major and stay out all night because the last thing one wants is to be a screwed-up monster with a person’s hand up your ass, living on Avenue Q.