Israeli Avenue Q – Follow-up #3: Read My Critique – or, Better Yet, Skip My Critique And Just Buy Your Tickets Today!

Avid readers of my blog may have read about my growing anticipation for the Israeli production of Avenue Q (previous post #1, #2) – well I just came back from seeing the show and it is absolutely amazing!

Beit Lessin Ticket for Avenue Q

GET YOUR TICKETS TODAY at www.AvenueQ.co.il

Okay, now that I got the bottom line off my chest, let’s get down to the nitty gritty:
While I love theatre musicals, I am quite difficult when it comes to watching a local production, never being able to stop comparing everything, starting with the translated text, the set, the songs, the orchestra, and every other aspect which more often than not seem to be much better in the original production.
That is not the case with Moshe Kepten’s Hebrew version of Avenue Q – Bravo, Kepten, O Kepten!

Highlights:
Translation: Eli Bizsawi’s translation from English is a work of art. I often complain about still being able to ‘hear’ the original English when the translation is literal and sticks to the words and not the essence – but that is not the case with Avenue Q. As I predicted before, fitting all the information in English into Hebrew, which has oh so many more syllables, is an impossible job – but the translator did not force it, he made the words feel comfortable coming out of the actors’ mouths, using contemporary slang and references.
Actors: Michal Yannai plays herself as the has-been actress, and was a smart bet by the director of the show who felt the Gary Coleman character would not relate to the Israeli audience. Yannai upgraded the part and became the unequivocal star of the show, using many authentic reference points from her actual life to truly make herself be the example Schadenfreude person.
I have to admit I was very concerned with four actors: Roy Bar-Natan (Princeton, Rod), Tali Oren (Kate Monster, Lucy the Slut), Idan Alterman (Nicky, male Bad-Idea Bear), and Nicky Goldstein (Trekkie Monster), all of them are accomplished Israeli comedians, so familiar that I thought they might overshadow the puppets they play. To my surprise all of them gave minimalist performances, maximizing their abilities but minimizing their individual idiosyncrasies.
Michal Muchtar played an amazing female Bad-Idea Bear (Doobie Lo Lo), using her unique voice to show there really aren’t small parts. As previously noted, she is an up and coming star of the Israeli theatre, whose future seems brighter every time we meet. She also played Mrs. Thistletwat wonderfully.
Set: Except for a window that kept opening up, the set was a good replica of the original show, minus the Kate Monster head that shows up for a few seconds. No biggie.

Lowlights:
Sound: My biggest pet peeve when visiting the Israeli theatre. You always have to strain your ears to distinguish the words from the music. If they can balance it well abroad, why can’t they do it in Israel?
Actors: Elinor Aharon who played Latina the Spanish immigrant (originally Christmas Eve the Japanese immigrant) was dealt a bad hand and tried to do her best. The M-to-N letter replacement in her accent got old very quickly and became quite annoying. She only shined during her ‘The More You Ruv Someone’ solo.
Nir Shalmon played a parve Bryan, making a human character seem less life-like than the puppet characters. He did not ruin it for me – he just did not do anything for me.
Video: I cannot avoid mentioning the fact that the opening animation got digitally stuck half way through the opening theme, and there really isn’t an excuse for that.
Also, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find a DVD player that does not show the word ‘play’ when you press play, but maybe it’s just me.

All and all, a very good production, well worth your time.
There are only a few more shows this month and a few more in November, 2007 – make sure you order your tickets soon!

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