Entertainment » Theatre

Meet Rod :: Avenue Q’s resident Republican (and closet show queen)

by Jenny Block
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Friday May 21, 2010

This is not Sesame Street. I repeat. Not Sesame Street. The Avenue Q posters and ads always seem to cause some confusion. But these are not your granddad's puppets. This is adults-only stuff and it promises to be hilarious.

Avenue Q tells the story of a recent college grad (Princeton) who moves to New York and finds that Avenue Q (located in an outer borough far from Manhattan) is the only place he can afford. There he meets all kinds of "people," including Gary Coleman. Yup, Gary Coleman. He's the building super.

The musical was conceived when the show's co-composer and co-lyricist Jeff Marx found himself in a number of entry level and temp jobs after graduating from law school. He looked around and saw his friends in much the same position. Having worked on a Muppet-inspired project with Robert Lopez, the two developed an idea for a musical that would use puppets (manipulated by the actors) in telling the story a newbie to New York finding his way in the big city.

It proved to be an instant hit when it opened off-Broadway at the Vineyard Theatre in March, 2003, transferring to Broadway the following July where it ran until last September for run of 2,534 performances. From there it returned backt o its off-Broadway roots where it continues to run at a West Side theater. What gave the show an initial boost at the box office was beating Wicked for the Best Musical at the 2004 Tony Awards. Marx and Lopez also won for their score as did librettist Jeff Whitty. A Vegas run, a number of national tours and a hit London production followed.

Luckily the gang on Avenue Q is always up for an interview. Puppets love to talk about themselves. So, I had took the opportunity to catch up in a phone conversation with Rod, a Republican investment banker who won't admit he's gay.

A Log Cabin Republican?

EDGE: I understand you’re a Republican, are you a Log Cabin Republican?

Rod: A Log Cabin Republican? Is that a Republican who likes Maple Syrup? I’m partial to Aunt Jemima myself.

EDGE: What are your feelings about Obama’s stance on gay rights, including gay marriage?

Rod: Isn’t all marriage gay? You would hope if two people are marrying each other, they make each other happy!

EDGE: Are you currently seeing anyone?

Rod: Yes! My girlfriend Alberta is truly wonderful. You should interview her sometime about all the sex we have. She can’t do it today though... She has to work. And not tomorrow, cause she has to feed her cows. And not the day after that... She’s gonna be very sick. I don’t know how I know... I can just feel it

EDGE: Do you live alone? If not, with whom do you live?

Rod: I live with my good friend, Nicky. He leaves his clothes out and puts his feet on my chair. He also drools on his pillow, but there is something endearing about it. It’s like a little kid. Not that I watch him sleep or anything.

EDGE: What do you like to do with your free time?

Rod: Dinner, a Broadway show, and a Cosmo at a Piano bar.

EDGE: Who do you most admire?

Rod: Barbara Streisand.

EDGE: What is the one goal you want to be sure to achieve before you die?

Rod: Go to the gym more. I don’t go as often as I would like. I am desperately in search of my pecs. I know I have them. I just can’t see them.

EDGE: What is your favorite television show? Movie? Song?

Rod: I love watching TV. Lost is the best show in television history. Where else can you get suspense, mystery, and endless numbers of hot bodies. My favorite movie is an old movie musical called Summer Stock. It starred Judy Garland and Gene Kelly. Gene Kelly did this dance in an old barn... O M G.

EDGE: Did you always want to be an investment banker? If not, what other careers did you consider?

Rod: Yes, I adore being an investment banker. My best decision was to put everything I had into Tootsie Rolls. The world will always need Tootsie Roll.

EDGE: What is the best piece of advice you can give to young people deciding what to do with their lives?

Rod: Come visit Avenue Q. Because you will meet friends there that you will never forget. Friends who will be there for you when times are good or bad, happy or sad, straight or... curvy.

Avenue Q runs May 25 - June 6, 2010 at the Winspear Opera House, 2403 Flora St.; Dallas, TX. For more information call 214-880-0202 or visit the AT&T Performing Arts Center website.

Jenny Block is a Dallas based freelance writer and the author of "Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage" (Seal Press, June 2008). Block’s work has appeared in Cosmopolitan (Germany), USA Today, American Way, BeE, bRILLIANT, the Dallas Morning News, D, Pointe, and Virginia Living, as well as on huffingtonpost.com, yourtango.com, and ellegirl.com. You can also find her work in the books "It’s a Girl" (Seal Press, March 2006, ed. Andrea J. Buchanan) and "One Big Happy Family" (Riverhead Press, February 2009, Rebecca Walker, ed.).


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