Avenue Q songwriters Jeff Marx and Robert Lopez coincidentally met in a subway station in New York City one day before beginning classes at the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop. The duo began writing music and created one of the most successful musicals in Broadway history.
In an effort to create a musical that would interest audiences who were not usually captivated by musicals, Marx and Lopez set out to write an entirely unique project. After months of kicking around ideas, they stumbled upon a concept perfect for 20-something audiences.
The idea was to take entertainment and surround it in a familiar medium, like Sesame Street. This “Friends” meets Sesame Street approach to musical theatre allowed Marx and Lopez to write songs that spoke to the obstacles young audiences face, like navigating life after college, relationship problems, paying rent and finding a life outside your apartment.
In May of 2000 at the York Theatre, Marx and Lopez held the first reading of Avenue Q for potential producers. Among the audience members were Robyn Goodman, producer of “One Life to Live,” and Kevin McCollum and Jeff Seller, the producers of Rent. All three were impressed with the fresh take on approaching the adult themes and ideas through a children’s television format: puppets. Goodman, McCollum and Seller signed on the project immediately.
In August of 2001, Marx and Lopez hired young actor-turned playwright Jeff Whitty to create a storyline for each of the characters. After many revisions, Avenue Q ran Off-Broadway at the Vineyard Theatre from March through May, 2003.
On July 31, 2003, Avenue Q opened on Broadway at the John Golden Theatre. Nominated for six Tony’s in 2004, Avenue Q won three Tony’s including Best Original Score, Best Book of a Musical and beat Wicked for Best Musical, evenutally becoming one of the longest-running shows in Broadway history.
Photo by John David Pittman. © Copyright 2013 Arkansas Repertory Theatre. All rights reserved. Avenue Q has not been authorized or approved by the Jim Henson Company or Sesame Workshop, which have no responsibility for its content.