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LG Youtheatre opens Avenue Q, the kid version

By Cathy DeDe, Chronicle Managing Editor

Youtheatre, the summer theater program directed by Mickey Luce in Lake George, opens its 42nd season not with 42nd Street but with ‘Avenue Q’ — the new, high school version of Broadway’s multi-award-winning Sesame Street take-off — this version minus the Broadway show’s most famously grown-up storylines and strongest language — but, of course, still with the puppets. It runs Wednesday to Friday, July 17-19. See below.

Avenue Q is described by distributor Music Theatre International as “part flesh, part felt and packed with heart.”

MTI says, “The laugh-out-loud musical tells the timeless story of a recent college grad named Princeton who moves into a shabby New York apartment all the way out on Avenue Q.

“He soon discovers that, although the residents seem nice, it’s clear that this is not your ordinary neighborhood. Together, Princeton and his new-found friends struggle to find jobs, dates and their ever-elusive purpose in life.

Avenue Q kids — Monday was the first day of rehearsal, but the young actors had been familiarizing themselves with their puppets since June 2, when they got their parts, they told The Chronicle. Pictured: A slew of cast members, with puppets provided by the licensing company — and some made by YT’s own Amity Luce-Aurilio. Chronicle photo/Cathy DeDe

MTI worked with the original creators of Avenue Q, to keep the show’s integrity, dramatic and comic intention even in the high school version, said info.

The Youtheatre students received their puppets on June 2, they told The Chronicle. Some were provided by the distributor and some add-ons were made by YT’s own Amity Luce-Aurilio. They’ve been learning how to work the puppets ever since, they said. Each came with admonishments to wear white gloves (provided) with the puppets, to take care against sweaty arms, food, beverages and such.

The kids said they’ve found, “It’s so easy to draw your focus away from the puppet, when you are supposed to be singing as the puppet.” “It takes a lot of stamina. Mr. Luce wants us to hold the puppets above our heads.” “It definitely hurts.”

“They’re doing great,” Mickey and wife Sharon told The Chronicle.

Three shows, total

What’s up for the rest of the season?

‘Bright Star’, July 24-26, has less name recognition than the typical YT show. It is the much admired bluegrass musical by Steve Martin (himself a banjo player) and indie rock singer-songwriter Edie Brickell — with banjo-led band.

‘Mama Mia’ — the hugely popular hit Broadway musical built entirely of Abba songs, July 31-Aug. 2.

‘Avenue Q’ specs

‘Avenue Q’ runs Wednesday to Friday, July 17 to 19, at the Lake George High School. Curtain times are at 1 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, and 9:30 a.m. on Friday. (Yes, all during the day.)

New this year: Advance ticketing is through the Wood Theater Box Office. (Shows are still in Lake George!)

Tix: $12. Call: 480-4878. Purchase day-of-show tickets at the school, as available, cash only. YT info: 793-3521.

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