R-rated puppets pull no punches

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Taking the lead: Andy Bell as main puppet character Princeton

It’s a little disconcerting hearing puppets singing about porn, but then Avenue Q isn’t your standard musical.

The cast of the upcoming Showbiz Queenstown production presented a sneak peek of the show on Sunday, ahead of opening night next Thursday.

Andy Bell, who’s the voice, and arm, behind puppet character Princeton, jokes he is now “one with the puppet”.

“I’m so used to it now, if he’s on my arm I have to use him.”

The show, described as an adult version of Sesame Street, is a local production of the Broadway smash hit, which won three Tony Awards.

It’s a satirical look at the trials and tribulations of growing up, and looking for your purpose in life – with plenty of R-rated humour thrown in.

While there’s plenty of that, with songs such as Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist and The Internet Is for Porn, there’s also some more heartfelt moments.

At last weekend’s preview, director Bryan Aitken said the show was about the “issues and anxieties associated with adulthood”.

The puppets lament how when they were young, their parents told them they were special, “and as they enter adulthood, they find they’re no more special than anybody else”, Aitken said.

Bell says the cast’s been rehearsing four times a week in the lead up to the show.

“I’m really excited to be on stage.”

Joining him up there are a group of well-known local performers, including his husband Pol Nicholson, Emma Pullar and Henry Youngman.

Avenue Q will run from May 16 to 25 at the Queenstown Memorial Centre, tickets from $38 on Eventfinda.

daisy.hudson@scene.co.nz