Interview with Stephen Arden ahead of Avenue Q New Wimbledon Theatre show

Performer Stephen Arden and the Trekkie Monster at the New Wimbledon Theatre

Performer Stephen Arden and the Trekkie Monster at the New Wimbledon Theatre

First published in News
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Wimbledon Guardian: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter - Wimbledon

The Muppets are back! But not as you remember them from children's shows Sesame Street and Muppet Treasure Island.

Featuring an alternative grown-up cast of fuzzy friends, the widely-acclaimed West End musical ‘Avenue Q’ will be stopping off at the New Wimbledon Theatre next month.

Pitched at an adult audience, the show tells the story of a bright-eyed graduate, out-of-work comedian, therapist, Internet ‘sexpert’ and their puppet neighbours in a New York suburb as they struggle with growing up, dreaming big and finding purpose in life. 

Louisa Clarence-Smith catches up with performer Stephen Arden ahead of the show.

Louisa Clarence-Smith: What can audiences expect from the musical?

Stephen Arden: The story-line is an adult version of Sesame Street. It follows the main protagonists as they discover all the problems of adult life in a downtown suburb of New York.

LCS: Trained at The Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, you've performed in musicals like Spring Awakening and Clinton the Musical. What's it like starring alongside puppets?

SA: It's probably one of the hardest jobs I've ever done. It was a complete challenge to take the skills I already have in terms of singing, dancing and acting and making that translate through one limb.

LCS: Do you think they are able to transmit all the complex emotions dealt with in the story?

SA: I think the puppets can be a lot more truthful than humans can be. You forgive them a lot of the language because they are puppets and are given a sort of licence to misbehave. Part of the appeal of the show is to see these puppets in use in ways you wouldn't expect.

LCS: You play Nicky and the Trekkie Monster in the show. Can you tell us about them?

SA: Nicky is a happy-go-lucky parody of Ernie from Sesame Street. He's a bit lazy and he lives by sponging off his investment banker friend, but he's got a heart of gold.

Trekkie Monster is a monster who lives above the avenue and spends his time looking at porn. Whenever anyone calls him he says he's busy.

LCS: Do you think the story is relevant to contemporary social issues?

SA: The show's now 10 years old so there are some issues that have moved on but I still think issues like having enough money to get a flat, porn addiction and coming out are relevant.

LCS: Why did you want to take part in the show?

SA: I saw the show in London when it first opened in 2005 or 2006 and doing characters was always my thing and I could do their voices so when the opportunity arose I took it. It's a bit of a dream come true.

Wimbledon Guardian:

Avenue Q; New Wimbledon Theatre, 93 The Broadway; August 26 to 30; Tues to Thurs, 7.30pm; Fri, 5pm and 8.30pm; Sat, 2.30pm and 7.30pm; £17.90 - £42.40;

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