After 30 years of performances, Theatre in the Square shut down in March amid financial trouble. But one of the theater’s two stages is again come alive with performers – including puppets – now that “Avenue Q” has begun 16 days of performances.
“Avenue Q” began at 8 p.m. Friday and runs through Aug. 25 at the Alley Stage, on the corner of Anderson Street and Powder Springs Road, behind Marietta Pizza Company. Tickets are $20 to $25. The musical is adult-oriented.
On Friday morning, Rob Hardie of Marietta, who co-directs the production with Zip Rampy of Canton, said tickets to the opening-night show were nearly sold out.
Hardie said it was a no brainer to locate his Next Stage Theatre Company at the empty Marietta Square facility. Next Stage had been nomadic over the past two years. For a year it was housed at old Blackwell Playhouse space off Canton Road, and before that it called Gwinnett County and Cumming home.
“(Theatre in the Square) did such good work,” Hardie said. “The space not being utilized for artists just seemed like a shame.”
In May, Next Stage signed a 15-month lease with building owner, Marietta Councilman Philip Goldstein, for the 125-seat Alley Stage, the smaller of the two stages that had been used by Theatre in the Square.
“Avenue Q” is presented through a special arrangement with Music Theatre International.
Written by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, it won the Tony Award for best musical in 2004.
The musical, performed by 10 professional actors and other performers leading puppets, focuses on a disillusioned college graduate named Princeton who moves to a New York apartment on seedy Avenue Q, where he meets a cast of colorful characters who help him find his way in life.
“I never laughed so hard in my life,” Hardie said of the first time he saw the musical in New York. “It’s not for children. You know with a character called Lucy The Slut, it may not be the best for children — unless you want them to grow up real quickly.”
Hardie estimated his company spent $5,000 just for renting the 30 puppets.
Following “Avenue Q,” Next Stage Theatre will present “Dancing Sideways,” “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” and finally, “Cabaret” around Christmas to close out the year.
For tickets, visit www.nextstagetheatre.net.
Theater veteran Palmer Wells helped lead Theatre in the Square until its board voted in March to close down. Shortly thereafter, a group led in part by Mike Russell, who had chaired the board of Theatre in the Square, announced the creation of a new company called Trackside Theatre and its intentions to start in the same location. The status of that theater company remains in question.
The main stage of the Theatre in the Square building remains unleased, Goldstein said Friday.