We talk a lot about the Walton Arts center here at the Flyer, and for good reason. It’s great for the city of Fayetteville, and because it exists, Fayetteville is a regular stop for some world class theatre, some of the country’s best musicians, directors, actors, singers, etc.
It is something that we want to support as much as possible, because as long as there’s a Walton Arts Center, Fayetteville will continue to experience all of these great productions, concerts, musicals, and installations, and that’s a good thing for everybody.
But as much as we talk about the Walton Arts Center, we’ve never been more excited about a production coming to town than we are for the musical Avenue Q that starts Tuesday, February 17th.
As you probably already know, Avenue Q is Broadway’s smash-hit 2004 Tony Award-winner for Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book. Besides all that, Entertainment Weekly called it “one of the funniest shows you’re ever likely to see,” and, call us immature, but the idea of foul mouthed puppets singing songs called “Everyone’s a little bit racist” and “The internet is for porn” is kind of right up our alley.
Avenue Q also has a Fayetteville connection. Jason Moore directed the hit musical on Broadway, and was born and grew up right here in Fayetteville. We got in touch with him, and he was kind enough to answer some questions about Fayetteville, Avenue Q, and his work on the Broadway version of the hit movie Shrek.
Fayetteville Flyer: What have you been listening to lately?
Jason Moore: I’m obsessed with the soundtrack of SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE. It’s genius. Other than that: Adele, Alainis Morisette, Daft Punk, and the Original Broadway Cast Recording of IN THE HEIGHTS
FF: You were born in Fayetteville, correct? How long were you here?
JM: I was born there in 1970 in Washington Regional Medial Center and lived there until I went away to college.
FF: Do you still have family in the area?
JM: My father, Rudy Moore, is still there and many of my aunts, uncles, and cousins are back and forth to Fayetteville. It is the hub of my family in Arkansas.
FF: What is your perception of Fayetteville now? Anything about the place stick with you? Anything you miss?
JM: I always loved, and continue to love, Fayetteville’s artistic bent set against beautiful nature. It’s maintained that even as it continues to grow with and into the other communities in Northwest Arkansas. So many things stick with me: the leaves on Maple street in the Fall, the Hot Corner Sandwich at On the Corner Restaurant, the Razorback band at Football and Basketball games are some of my best memories.
FF: How long have you been involved in theatre?
JM: I played Tiny Tim in the University of Arkansas production of PETER PAN. I was 6 years old.
FF: You are currently directing a Broadway version of the motion picture Shrek. How has that been different from your work on Avenue Q?
JM: Avenue Q was a little show that came from a scrappy downtown background and made it’s way to Broadway. SHREK is a big, spectacle show that started on Broadway but has it’s roots in simple storytelling. In many ways, they are similar stories: people finding love in their communities and with friends and lovers. They just couldn’t be more different in their size and scale in terms of productions.
FF: What’s the one thing about Avenue Q that is most commonly misunderstood?
JM: That the puppets have genitals. They do not. (If you can’t print that: ) That the show is for kids since it has puppets. It is in fact, really for adults because of it’s subject matter.
There are some pretty hilarious songs in Avenue Q. Do you have a favorite?
JM: EVERYONE’S A LITTLE BIT RACIST. It’s the quintessential song that sets the tone of the show: it says something outrageous that many people think on the inside, and gets away with it because puppets are saying it.
FF: You’ve done a fair amount of directing both television and theatre. Is there one that you prefer over the other?
JM: I like moving between all forms because it sharpens my storytelling skills and one form can influence another. Plus, I get bored.
FF: Any aspirations to get into film?
JM: I’ve been working to make a film for some time now and expect it to happen soon. I’m excited.