May 31st, 2010
01:12 PM ET
Following Gary Coleman’s death from a brain hemorrhage on May 28, “Avenue Q” writer Jeff Whitty was faced with a dilemma: Should he keep the vital character based on Coleman in that evening’s performance of the off-Broadway musical, or cut him altogether?
His decision? The show must go on! “From the very beginning,” Mr. Whitty told the New York Times, “when we wrote the show, he represented a certain spunkiness and attempting to overcome life’s disappointments.”
The question of bringing on a new character did come up, Whitty told the Times, acknowledging that audiences at the off-color puppet show might now find the “Avenue Q” Gary Coleman - portrayed as a former child star who works as the superintendent of a tenement and sings about how “It Sucks to Be Me” - just a wee bit offensive.
Instead, the creators of the Tony-winning show, which opened on Broadway in 2003 and is now playing off-Broadway at the New World Stages theater, opted to make minor tweaks to the performance. “We probably cut 20 words out of 1 million from the show tonight,” Whitty said.
Danielle K. Thomas, who plays Gary Coleman in “Avenue Q,” admits that she has always worried about what the “Diff’rent Strokes” star’s ongoing health problems meant for her role. But judging by the audience’s thunderous applause, it looks like her job is secure.
During the shows curtain call, a tearful Thomas took center stage and told the enthusiastic crowd, “I just want to say that, for me, it has never sucked to be Gary Coleman.”
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