The Tony Award-winning musical “Avenue Q” is back in town June 18-20 with its cute, but irreverent, puppet monsters and its catchy, but definitely not politically correct, songs. This tour production allowed PGN to keep one foot planted in reality and the other ... well, somewhere else, as we spoke to an openly gay actor and a closeted gay monster from the production.
New Jersey native and out actor Tim Kornblum plays Brian, an unemployed Jewish comedian in the show. Rod is a monster, Republican, investment banker, who is really fixated on his roommate Nicky.
PGN: What is it about Avenue Q that keeps it so popular? Tim Kornblum: Regardless of age or however you were brought up, everybody can relate to something that happens in the show, whether it’s a specific scene or song or lesson that’s being taught. There’s something in it for everybody. Because the show talks about growing up and living your life, what we talk about can connect on a serious personal level.
PGN: Who’s the most popular? TK: It depends of where you are. Usually Trekkie Monster, who does “The Internet is for Porn,” always gets a good response. Rod, who’s the closeted gay Republican, is always a big character, too.
PGN: Was there any discussion about changing the show after the recent passing of Gary Coleman? TK: Yes and no. Jeff Whitty, the guy who wrote the book has already made some line changes to some of the references and also to some of Gary’s actual lines. [The character] Gary Coleman will still be in the show, but they did tweak some of the lines to make it a little more tactful.
PGN: Do you have any similarities to the character of Brian? TK: Actually, we’re frightening similar. We’re both lazy guys who are just trying to make people laugh for a living. But we’re both in a relationship with someone who takes care of us because we really have to get our asses in gear. We actually have a similar way of dressing. His is a little more obnoxious than mine, but I’ve been known to wear some obnoxious outfits.
PGN: How much of the audience is LGBT? TK: That really depends on the city. In a lot of conservative towns where there is a gay population, it’s very hard to read. In a lot of the liberal cities we go to, it’s very clear. They’re usually the most fun audience members because a lot of them relate to it on a much more personal level than straight audiences do.
PGN: So Rod, the last time we spoke, Bush was in office. Now we’ve got Obama. How do you like them apples? Rod: He’s doing a decent job. Although, I haven’t heard much from him on the issue of Monster Rights.
PGN: You really seem to have absolutely nothing in common with Nicky. How did the two of you end up roommates? R: Nicky and I met in college. We roomed together. What a blast! Then when I graduated and became an investment banker, I found out that he was looking for a floor to crash on, so he moved in! And he couldn’t sleep on the floor, that’s just silly. I would much rather him be in my bed ... a bed ... any ol’ bed. So I bought him his own bed.
PGN: Who is on your wish list of famous people that you hope will visit Avenue Q? R: Barbara Streisand.
PGN: If you had to spoon anyone on Avenue Q, who would it be? R: My girlfriend, Alberta. But, she’s more of a fling ... a hot straight fling!
PGN: You don’t seem to like to go out that much, what gives? R: I go out! Last night I was at a piano bar and had a cosmo. I have a little binder of sheet music I bring when I go. It includes selections from “Funny Girl,” “Funny Lady” and “Carrie: The Musical.”
PGN: As an investment banker, how are you riding out the current financial crisis? R: I have not been affected. I’m good ... really good. The economy is tricky. You have to know how to ride it when it’s hard ... um, next question. PGN: If you had to something other than a banker, what would you be? R: I thought about running for the head of the PTA once. I don’t have any kids — I just like bake sales.
PGN: Why are so many Republicans getting caught in gay-sex scandals these days? R: Every time this happens the media acts surprised. I’m not surprised. The way they sport those power suits ...
Catch “Avenue Q,” June 18-20 at the Academy of Music, 240 S. Broad St. For more information, call (215) 893-1999 or visit www.kimmelcenter.org.