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Avenue Q

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

Mary Faber

Age: "I'm in my 20s."

Currently: Making her Broadway debut living on Avenue Q as resident puppets Kate Monster and Lucy the Slut.

Hometown: Originally from North Carolina, Faber grew up in Norfolk, Virginia, where she began taking musical theater classes with a local children's troupe at age 7 and made her stage debut at 10 in a production of Starmites. "I was a banshee—a baby banshee, actually," she says with a grin. "I had a long silver cape, and it was very fancy." Her roles improved by the time she went to the famous Interlochen Arts Camp in Michigan: "I played Ophelia in Hamlet."

Broadway Babies: Working at the children's theater, Faber became friends with young actors who were also Broadway bound, including Wicked's current Fiyero. "Derrick Williams and I used to carpool together! There are kids who come up to me here and the last time I saw them, I was babysitting them."

Comedy Tonight: Between theater jobs, Faber has occasionally moonlighted doing improvisational comedy at the Upright Citizens Brigade and other clubs. "I did it in college [at Brandeis], interned at the Chicago Improv Festival and took a class at Second City in New York," she says. "I love it. It helps you develop the ability to make a quick and strong choice, whether it's wrong or right. It gives you the freedom to screw up because nothing's sacred in improv and sketch comedy. I think everybody should try it."

The Road to the Q: Faber's path to Avenue Q began in the fall of 2004, and though it was a long audition process, she felt in sync with the spirit of the show immediately. "When I saw it, I just knew, 'This is for me,'" she remembers vividly. "This show is so smart and current, and it speaks to exactly what I'm dealing with right now. It hooks you with its wit and how edgy it can be, but it's got a wholesome, hopeful message at heart." Success came in late 2005, just as Faber finished the off-Broadway engagement of the Fringe Festival hit Slut. "Slut was closing on a Sunday, I heard I got Q on Friday and started rehearsal the next Tuesday," she recalls. "It was perfect timing, one of those cheesy theater stories: I made it! I made it!"

Monsters' Ball: Faber and other recent additions to the Avenue Q cast have been encouraged by director Jason Moore to put a fresh spin on their characters. "He really said, 'Go and make it your own.' He didn't want a copy," she explains. "I think a lot of replacements face that challenge: 'How much do I make it my own and how much do I try to sound like the cast recording?' People are expecting a certain thing. To find that balance can be tricky."

Shocked? Not! With its wickedly hilarious songs about sex, racism and homosexuality, Avenue Q defies audience expectations, which delights Faber as she performs some of the raunchier scenes. "When I see older people in the audience, I always look at them out of the corner of my eye," she says wryly. "About a week ago, there was an older couple in the first few rows, and during 'You Can Be Loud as the Hell You Want [When You're Makin' Love],' which is the full puppet nudity, they were rolling! And I started laughing because they were so cute, just really enjoying it. It goes to show that you shouldn't expect people to find it scandalous."

Finding Your Purpose: From childhood, Faber has focused on her dream of working in theater, and she's enjoying getting to know Avenue Q's devoted young fans informally known as Q-Tips. Her advice to would-be performers? "In addition to working on your training, work on being a full person," she says simply. "Have friends and have a life, and don't spend so much time worrying about 'When am I gonna make it?' I'm fortunate in having a community of people who've sustained me through what can be an incredibly difficult career path. Stay grounded and know who loves you."

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