Red Branch Theatre Company unveiled the first look of the puppets they commissioned for their upcoming production of Avenue Q. The puppets were handcrafted by professional artisan Kaitlen Sousa from New England.
“When we first started talking about producing Avenue Q we knew we wanted to bring our own interpretation to a very popular and well-known Broadway hit,” said Stephanie Williams, executive producer of Red Branch Theatre Company. The group had the opportunity to rent replica versions of the puppets used in the Broadway production but instead opted to create their own version of the characters. “These puppets have the same names and lines as the ones audiences may have seen in other productions but we think they come with a unique look and interpretation,” Williams adds.
Kaitlen Sousa has been making puppets, performing, designing costumes, props and set pieces for a Godzilla-influenced monster wrestling show, for over six years. RBTC approached her to work on the Avenue Q ‘Cast Members’ last spring. After an initial discussion to understand RBTC’s vision, Sousa drew a few sets of digital sketches. Once the designs were finalized, she then started patterning and building them. “The puppets are mostly made with reticulated foam and Antron fleece, which I dye by hand to get the right colors for each character,” said Sousa. “These are the same materials used for the Muppets, as well as the original Broadway production of Avenue Q.”
Sousa added, “These puppets were an exciting challenge, because I had to redesign characters that had already been established and impeccably built by Rick Lyon, who also performed in the original show. I tried to work with the theatre company’s vision for the show, while still keeping with their Sesame Street-influenced roots.”
Avenue Q opens at Drama Learning Center in Columbia on October 5th and runs on select dates through October 21st. For details or to purchase tickets visit www.redbranchtheatrecompany.com or call 410-997-9352. (Please note – This production contains adult content and is recommended for mature audiences only.)