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Avenue Q

The trials and tribulations of the people (and puppets) in the neighborhood.

Ann Sanders

Age: in Christmas Eve voice "I no allowed to say! Tee hee."

Currently: Stepping into the role of Christmas Eve in Avenue Q while regular Ann Harada is on maternity leave.

Hometown: Suburban Illinois.

Step Into Christmas Eve: When Sanders first saw Avenue Q, she was on Broadway covering the role of Belle inBeauty and The Beast. "It was like the second preview or something, and I went with my friend," she recalls. "We were both falling out of our chairs laughing, so much so that I missed some of what was said, and I thought to myself, ‘Whoops! Have to go back!' After I went back the second time, there was an open call. Five callbacks later, and I was Christmas Eve's understudy! I'll be with the show a year in January."

Oh, Baby!: Harada departed Avenue Q on October 26 for her three-month maternity leave. She and her husband welcomed son Elvis Harada Litman on November 1. "We had a Christmas party a few weeks ago, and there he was," Sanders says of the newborn. "He's little baby Elvis, and I mean, Shut up! He's perfect! He even does a little lip curl like Elvis." And of Harada herself, she says, "She may not be sleeping, but she looks gorgeous. I don't think she could be happier."

The Second Coming of Christmas Eve: "I feel that this character is written so well that there are constantly new things in her for me to find," Sanders says of her role, which has become much-beloved on Broadway since the show's premiere. "Even if you go on for just one night, you want to do your best work and swing for the fences. You have to set a personal goal for your performance. You have a job to do in each scene, and you have to be constantly evolving, constantly finding new stuff." For Sanders, part of the fun of being in Avenue Q has been coming face to face with some of the shows fanatical devotees. "I see these people at the stage door, and I start to recognize them. They'll tell me it's their fifth time... Their fifth time!?! That's beyond fantastic. Even if people have the CD, which would take away some of the shock value of the show, there's an excitement of seeing exactly how the songs fit into the story, and that feeds into the thrill for the first-timers." When asked if the fans have decided on a name, a la "Rentheads" or "Jekkies," Sanders muses about her favorite suggestion. "I once heard that some fans were calling themselves Q-Tips, which is nice, because... I mean, I like Q-Tips."

Born For Her Role: "I have absolutely no problem playing a character like Christmas Eve," Sanders says. "She may be an Asian stereotype, and I know people may be sensitive, but it's done in such a truthful, affectionate way that, to me, I find it quite loving. My mom is Korean, and there's a line in the show where I say, ‘Try to work in Korean deli, but I am Japanese.' Well, my family actually owned a Korean deli, so I can relate! There are definitely real Christmas Eves out there who are funny, salty, generous and kind. Her comedy comes from truth."

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year: "With a name like Christmas Eve, I'd better be getting big laughs during the holidays," Sanders says, even while confessing that her own Christmas tree might be looking a little bleak this year. "I put it up too soon, and now it's already drying out. I missed its peak!" Sanders also offers her eternal gratitude to Harada for her family planning. "I couldn't have picked a better time to be part of the Broadway community than during the holidays," she says. "The lighting of the tree in Duffy Square was a highlight for me, but it's basically been the whole month. I feel so blessed!"

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