Now playing at New World Stages off-Broadway.
Avenue Q made its Broadway debut in 2003, but when the economic downturn hit, it downsized back to an off-Broadway theater, for which it is well suited. I never saw it in one of the grander theaters, but its scrappy striving seems to belong in a more cozy, modest space.
Not that the musical is modest in any sense. It’s hilariously crude, for starters, and it doesn’t lack for ambition. It could have been just one dumb joke—just the giddy shock value of a warped, gleefully perverse Sesame Street—and maybe sometimes it is just that. But taken as a whole, Avenue Q features more than enough wit and insight to elevate it above the baseness of its base. Like the best episodes of South Park, Avenue Q manages to be both jubilantly childish and darkly mature, shamelessly ribald and quietly profound.