Any Avenue Q fans planning to check out the show's Broadway Across America stops at the Mahalia Jackson Theater this week (8 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, 7:30 p.m. Sunday) might notice a few tweaks to the script made after Gary Coleman, who's portrayed in the show in a not-so-nice way, died of a brain hemorrhage May 28. While the changes might be a surprise to some, there's some things audiences can definitely expect. "We advertise plenty. We put puppet boobs on billboards," says Brent Michael DiRoma, who plays Princeton and Rod in the touring cast. "I mean, if that doesnt give you the first hint (about the shows content), I dont know what will."
Brent Michael DiRoma: We were actors and singers before we were puppeteers. When we started the show we were learning a lot at once. Not only were we learning the show, but we were learning how to do the show with puppets on our arms and finding the balance of, you dont want to upstage the puppet, and you dont want the puppet to upstage you. Really, the goal is to leave it up to (the audience) whether or not they want to watch the puppets or the people. Doing the show in that matter kinda leaves a lot to take in at once, so audiences end up choosing or gravitating toward one or the other.
DiRoma: I remember a few times during the rehearsal process the director kind of telling us at the beginning of rehearsal were going to a full run-through tomorrow. The next day, he shows up and says no puppets. Were doing it without the puppets, just to make sure this show stays grounded." The next day, we put the puppets back on and it was like Oh, thank God.
Grabois: No, I feel excitement. I feel like Im involved with a show thats so awesome. I cant do wrong. Basically, even if I stood up there and didnt act and just said the lines, people are gonna laugh. Its such good material.
DiRoma: If we went on stage and started singing about about racism, it might not be so well received. I think the puppets bring innocence and naiveté to the show that makes it a little more playful and lighthearted.
DiRoma: I relate most to Princeton, probably not so much now. When we first started, I was Princeton. I was fresh out of college, kind of searching for the next big step in my life. It was hard to find it for a really long time. I was looking for a job; Princetons looking for his purpose. Rod, Im the total opposite of. But hes my favorite character to perform, by all means, because Rod has such a journey throughout the entire show and takes some huge steps with himself and with the people around him. And I love taking Rods journey, whereas Princeton is definitely a blast to perform, but he's is almost second nature to me. Princeton happens every night whether I want it to or not. With Rod, I definitely feel taken by him.