“Be careful what you write about this show,” a fellow VWCT board member said to me in reference to Avenue Q, premiering tomorrow night. I heard the warning loud and clear and for the past three weeks, I’ve been particularly gun-shy about submitting an article. I felt as if a big piece of black duct-tape with the word “censored” on it had been slapped across my mouth.

How do I write an article (with my name and charming picture) for the Van Wert Times-Bulletin about a show with songs like “Be as Loud as the Hell you Want (While You’re Makin’ Love)” or “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist” and simultaneously be politically correct? What themes do I choose to write about with such lyrics as “It sucks to be me!” or “I can tell just by looking that you are especially hard for me” and not come off as sounding brash or offensive?

Kate Monster (a puppet character performed by Jamie Allen) says, “There’s a fine, fine line between love and a waste of time.” Well, there’s also a fine, fine line between being professional and being vulgar. Clearly, this show is not for everyone (and most definitely not for young children).

While it is not affiliated in anyway with Jim Henson Studios, it’s a fair assessment to label Avenue Q as “Sesame Street for adults.” Instead of learning the importance of looking both ways before you cross the street, Avenue Q asks its colorful cast to consider the consequences of a one-night stand.

It comes down to being politically correct. I understand the purpose of it. I’m in no way arguing that we should all go around spouting whatever we want, when we want, without any thought to the sensitivities of others. But, if I wasn’t afraid of the social and professional ramifications of openly talking about issues of gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, and physical abilities, I would be writing about them - right now. Avenue Q tackles these issues head-on and quite cleverly with a cushion for the impact; a cushion in the form of a superb musical score and adorable puppets (neither of which I can offer the reader in a written format).

My point is, I think the P.C. movement has gone too far. The effect of political correctness has not been a happier, cozier society. In fact, quite the opposite has occurred. Instead of talking about these issues, we avoid the “white elephants” in the room altogether - hindering the very progress the P.C. movement intended.

If I can’t talk about my fears, hopes, dreams, aspirations, anxieties, assumptions, or concerns, how will I ever get to know and trust those who are different from me? If we can’t question the differences we see in people without being afraid to offend someone, how will we ever overcome our differences? My intent isn’t to offend, it’s to understand.

“Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist”, sung by the cast of Avenue Q, makes this point quite clear. “If we all could just admit that we are racist a little bit, and everyone stop being so P.C., maybe we could live in harmony.”Avenue Q asks its audience to sit back, relax, and let the performers on stage discuss and interact with these “touchy subjects.” The shows characters address these pesky “white elephants”, give them a name, recognize they exist, and talk about them. It’s the shows purpose; it’s real life.

Van Wert Civic Theatre’s third production of the season, Avenue Q, opens tomorrow night! Get ready Van Wert - you’re not on Sesame Street anymore. Call (419) 238-9689, Monday through Saturday between the hours of 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. to make your reservations.

Performance dates are Jan. 16, 17, 18, 19, 23, 24, 25, 26. Sunday performances begin at 2 p.m.; all other performances begin at 8 p.m. For more information, visit http://vwct.org. See you at the show!