Puppets Lead the Way in Upcoming Production of ‘Avenue Q’

Puppets will lead the way in the upcoming Southwestern College Summer Theatre Festival production, “Avenue Q.”  The show will be presented Friday and Saturday, July 27 and 28, at 7:30 p.m., and on Sunday, July 29, at 2 p.m., in Messenger Recital Hall of Southwestern’s Darbeth Fine Arts Building. 

Avenue Q“Puppets are actually the central characters in the show,” says director Meagan Morrow.  “It's a loving spoof of ‘Sesame Street’ so we see puppets and people interacting. The puppets add a whole new level of fantasy; they emote, empathize, and have real problems. We see them facing the same troubles we’ve all felt.”  

 Ryan Pangracs has been in charge of designing the puppets and bringing them to life for the show.  He says they are using single rod puppets and live hand puppets.

“We made them using foam and fabric,” Pangracs says.  “I had to find the clothes for the puppets and there was a lot of trial and error involved, but eventually we got it right.”

Pangracs says that each puppet took about 18 hours to create.  Although it was time-consuming, he says, the experience has been rewarding and beneficial. 

“It has been challenging trying to sync up the puppets’ mouths with the words and the songs of the show,” Pangracs says.  “‘Avenue Q’ deals with a lot of adult themes but when the words come from characters that have funny faces and bright colors, it makes it easier to accept.”

Morrow also learned about puppeteering with this production. 

“The most difficult part of the show has been the creation and operating of the puppets,” Morrow says.  “I had minimal experience before with puppeteering and zero experience building. The cast came together and learned how to do it. It was actually amazing.”

The Tony-award-winning musical is an autobiographical and biographical coming-of-age parable, addressing and satirizing the issues and anxieties associated with entering adulthood. Its characters lament that as children, they were assured by their parents (and by children’s television programs such as “Sesame Street”) that they were special and could do anything. As adults, they have discovered to their surprise and dismay that in the real world their options are limited, and they are no more special than anyone else. 

The show includes mature subject matter and language.

Ticket prices are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, and $6 for students.  Order tickets by calling (620) 221-7720, online at, or by emailing  

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