The Farmington Players takes aim at attracting a younger audience with its 2012-2013 season "bonus" show, Avenue Q.
The quirky Broadway musical, which opens Friday, features actors and puppets in a story with decidedly adult themes, which is something "a little bit out of the box" for the Players, director Allison Boufford said. The local community theater group is among the first to produce the show.
Paying off the mortgage on the , located on 12 Mile west of Orchard Lake, has allowed the Players to choose "more edgy" material, the Northville resident said, adding, "It's so freeing to be able to explore different kinds of material."
Avenue Q follows Princeton, a recent college graduate, as he searches for his purpose in life and along the way gets a big dose of reality. At one point, he wonders, "What Do You Do with a B.A. in English?".
"There's definitely a 'true heart' to the show," Boufford said. "I really do feel the message is that it will be a struggle, but you can't give up on your dreams. It's really about persevering and taking the challenges as they come."
A positive message and puppets that resemble Sesame Street characters might lead parents to think the show is appropriate for children, and Boufford said there will be prominent notices about the show's adult content.
"The footnote to that is I think people of all ages can get the message," she said.
Boufford, who holds a B.F.A. in Theater from the University of Michigan, said she still can't believe the number of talented performers who showed up for auditions in June. While it was difficult to select the cast, she said, "they've made my life so much easier." Connor Rhoades of Plymouth, who plays Nicky, is an experienced puppeteer and has helped the cast get comfortable with their characters.
The Farmington Players will stick close to the original Broadway production, Boufford said, "because there are people so attached to the show. It's still so fresh, I wanted to give people what they were expecting."
Farmington Players will take on another recent Broadway musical with Legally Blonde this spring. Based on the hit movie starring Reese Witherspoon, the musical is expected to be another draw for the younger set.
"I do think it takes the Farmington Players to a new level, and an exciting level to venture into a new brand of theater," Boufford said.
Avenue Q runs Aug. 10-25. Tickets are $18, $16 for students. Learn more and reserve tickets at farmingtonplayers.org.