Jennifer Barnhart and Rick Lyon with the Avenue Q puppet, Nicky
In July 2003, a very different sort of musical opened on Broadway. It wasn't based on a blockbuster film or play or best-selling book, wasn't compiled from popular songs, and it didn't take place somewhere far away or long ago. It was entirely original, set in contemporary New York, and, perhaps most surprisingly, featured colorful puppets in its lead roles.
The show was Avenue Q, with music and lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx and a book by Jeff Whitty. It opened to rave reviews, and went on to receive three Tony Awards, including Best Musical. When it officially closes on May 23 this year, the New York production will have played more than 6,000 performances.
Before the final curtain falls, hear from Rick Lyon, who conceived, designed, and built the puppets for the show, and his fellow original Broadway cast member Jennifer Barnhart. In conversation with Ryan Lintelman, curator at the American History Museum, they discuss the development, history, and impact of Avenue Q, and its groundbreaking use of puppetry on stage. They also offer a rare performance of a song written for the show that did not make the final cut.
In a Playbill interview with Jennifer Barnhart, learn why she and Rick Lyon are known as “the Fred and Ginger of puppetry”—and plenty of other fascinating behind-the-scenes tidbits about her long association with Avenue Q.