Melodramatics Theatre Company’s production of Avenue Q sells out Risley Theatre

Sexual puppets, crude humor, live music and roaring laughter from the audience filled Risley Theatre last weekend as The Melodramatics Theatre Company put on their fall semester musical. 

“I thought they did a really good job and clearly put a lot of effort into it,” Dimitris Salas ’26 said, who watched the Nov. 5 evening performance. “The show was very funny and entertaining and I loved the songs.”o

The Melodramatics Theatre Company’s student-run production of the Tony-award winning Avenue Q played to three sold-out shows, resulting in waiting lists for each showing. 

“We were shocked, we were not expecting it,” said first-time director Thomas Myers ’26, who co-directed the show alongside Emily Rubinstein ’25. 

Avenue Q is a Broadway musical comedy and parody of beloved children’s show Sesame Street. The musical follows numerous twenty-something characters—puppets and not—as they navigate challenges such as sexuality, racism, love and finding one’s purpose in life. 

Premiering off-Broadway in 2003, Jeff Whitty, Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx wrote the show as an unfiltered and humorous look at adulthood. Avenue Q is distinct in its politically incorrect and offensive humor, paired with its ironic use of unassuming puppets. 

According to Liv Licursi ’25, who played puppet Kate Monster, Melodramatics Theatre Company had many conversations acknowledging its controversial content, making sure that the actors were comfortable in their portrayals.

In “Noises Off,” the Farce is On

On Friday, Nov 5th, 2021, Cornell’s student-run Cog Dog Theatre Troupe debuted their rendition of the play Noises Off in the Risley Theatre on North Campus. Originally published in 1982 by British playwright Michael Frayn, the storyline follows the model of a play-within-a-play, wherein the actors involved are playing characters who are actors themselves as they attempt to put on their own production titled Nothing On. 

Romance, Blood, Calamity: Murder Ballad at Risley

Murder Ballad (directed by Cameron Krane ’17) is just what you want out of a Friday night as Risley Theater. It’s fun and exciting, a little bit messed up, well executed and small-scale. The musical has four main characters — a woman, her two love interests and a narrator. It’s a fairly typical New York City love triangle. Sara (Ana Carpenter ’19) is stuck between the respectable NYU poet and the sketchy downtown bartender.

Risley Theatre’s Julius Caesar: A Unique and Compelling Adaptation

Like Hemingway’s profound narrative on the destructive perplexity of war, or like Kubrick’s cinematic interpretations of subconscious struggle, Shakespeare’s tragedies possess an infinite relevance that will always characterize some portion of the human condition. Indeed, so long as individuals experience the dismay of death or the anguish of stifled romance, Shakespeare’s verse will continue to find a presence among stages and English curricula around the world. Many contemporary performances of his plays, while retaining the same lines and structure, adapt the work to a more modern setting; one notable example of this practice is Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 Romeo + Juliet, a splendid cross between sixteenth century and twentieth century 90’s culture. This is precisely the route that director Christian Brickhouse ’17 followed in Risley Theatre’s production of Julius Caesar. Rather than being left to unfold in the ancient and grand obscurity of the Roman Empire, this iteration of Julius Caesar is set in the United States during the year 1919.

next to normal at Risley Theatre


There are many things to love about next to normal, especially the production that took place at Risley last Thursday through Saturday. The play follows the Goodman family, whose matriarch, Diana, has been living with bipolar disorder for 16 years following the death of her infant son. Each member of the family experiences dramatic ups and downs, including Diana’s husband, Dan, who wonders if he’s crazy for holding onto hope, and Natalie, who is keenly aware of her mother’s obsession with her actual firstborn child. The contemporary rock soundtrack (played live by a very talented pit of student musicians split between Cornell and Ithaca College) was dynamic, diverse and moving, and in conjunction with the staging, minimalist set and lighting, next to normal at Risley was a fantastic production. The first thing I noticed about next to normal was the overwhelming presence of students who don’t go to Cornell.