Questions and answers with Lucie-Mae Sumner
The 25-year-old actress from Lancashire will be getting pretty handy with some colourful puppets in Londonderry next weekend as one of the stars of irreverent stage show Avenue Q.
So, what is Avenue Q all about then?
Well, it's a fairly real depiction of adult life, relationships and money – all the things they don't warn you about in school.
It's all depicted with puppets which makes it a million times better, because it's so much more fun.
Does the show bear any resemblance to Sesame Street?
It's a play on the fact that Sesame Street uses letters for learning. Obviously we're not advocated by Sesame Street, although in the original Broadway production there were puppeteers from the show that played some of the characters, so there's a connection, even if it's not an official one.
Tell us about your main character, Kate Monster.
Kate's something of an everywoman. She's the first puppet to swear and it makes you realise she's a real character.
I like to think of her as someone who's clever and makes the odd mistake, as we all do in our twenties, but comes through the other side having learnt about it.
I play Lucy the Slut as well, much to my dad's dismay. I sometimes get to play both in one scene, so I'm essentially having a conversation with myself. It's quite fun in a way, but I find it exciting that so much could go wrong as well.
Is it quite liberating to play such diverse characters?
It is, yes. When doing interviews with them in character I say things I would never normally say, particularly as Lucy.
I said something in a radio interview recently that they probably wouldn't be able to broadcast.
I would never say anything like that myself, so it's kind of an outlet for the dark side of your personality.
Given that it features puppets having sex, does it ever get a bit too close to the edge?
Some people have thought so, but it's a personal thing. It doesn't say anything that's just for shock value, there's a truth behind everything in the show.
The sex scene is probably one of the most famous, but it's nothing you wouldn't have ever seen or heard of before. If it was completely alien to people they wouldn't laugh.
So it's not a kids' show, then?
No. I saw it when I was 14 and that was fine, but I was a bit embarrassed at some of the things because I was sat with my mum!
But it depends how the parent feels – you'd be the coolest mum or dad if you took your child to see it.
Does it feel strange performing through a puppet?
As an actor, it makes it easier to depict things that are quite honest. For example, there's a song called Everyone's a Little Bit Racist, which is probably our most famous number, because it's glaringly honest. Things like that are almost easier to say with puppets.
Puppetry can be a very hard skill to master. Do you have a background in it yourself?
Not really, I did a tiny bit on my last show, but it was gentle puppetry.
This is a whole new level of difficulty for me, though. You're trying to portray a whole person on your right arm.
- Avenue Q runs at the Millennium Forum, Londonderry, from May 23-25. For details, visit www.millenniumforum.co.uk