Click to read about the best places to eat on campus, freshman packing tips, and how to keep in touch with friends.

Parental Advisory: 80% adult situations, 20% foam rubber

As college students, it is easy to relate to the struggle of finding a decent job, a stable relationship or a purpose in life, and most of the residents of the fictional Avenue Q are looking for the same things. Winner of the 2004 Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score Tony Awards, Avenue Q is a witty musical that delivers adult life lessons in a light-hearted, puppet-filled performance.

Avenue Q made its Tampa debut Tuesday in the Carol Morsani Hall at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. No matter how far from the stage one was seated, it was impossible to avoid being absorbed into the lives of Avenue Q’s residents. Many audience members surely recalled sitting in front of the TV as kids, when they would watch shows such as Captain Kangaroo and Sesame Street.

Avenue Q tells the story of Princeton, a 22-year-old college graduate who moves to Avenue Q, a low-budget area in New York City, in search of his life’s purpose.

A wide variety of characters are on hand to aid Princeton in his search. Kate Monster is a hopeless romantic who is developing a school for monsters. Closet homosexual Rod clashes with his messy roommate Nicky. Other residents include Trekkie Monster, a reclusive porn addict with a good investment plan, Brian, a 32-year-old aspiring comedian who lives with his Japanese fiancee, and the superintendent of Avenue Q, Gary Coleman.

It is a common misconception that Avenue Q is a “grown-up version of Sesame Street,” but the musical is not affiliated with Jim Henson’s Sesame Street or any Henson production. Its use of puppets, however, may be one reason the musical has gained notoriety over the past four years.

“I feel the show has come so far because it has the nostalgia of Sesame Street,” said actress Minglie Chen, “but it touches the heart of adult life.”

Avenue Q contains adult situations, such as full-puppet nudity. This may cause some to wonder how such subjects are freely accepted among various audiences.

“Freedom of expression, and thoughts of adult life, is much more acceptable behind the facade of a puppet,” said actress Carla Renata (Gary Coleman).

It is also surprising that the show can get away with presenting sensitive subjects such as racism, cabaret dancers, drunken sex and near-death experiences, and still make the audience chuckle.

“I know the audience will come away laughing, but what I don’t think they expect is to be so emotionally connected to these characters over the course of the evening. That heart is what, I believe, won Avenue Q the Tony,” actor Robert McClure (Princeton) said.

One of the strengths of the play is that it allows adult audiences to enjoy fuzzy foam puppets that are like those from their childhoods, but deal with the same kinds of situations those audiences struggle with today.

“Avenue Q was so much fun to watch,” said senior psychology major and first-time audience member Christina Montalvo. “It made you feel like a kid again.”