Rod (Avenue Q)

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Avenue Q castmembers perform a duet with Nicky (left) and Rod for "Broadway on Broadway" in September 2006.

Rod is a blue puppet character from the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical Avenue Q. He was originally played on Broadway by John Tartaglia and then Barrett Foa,[1] and on the West End of London by Jon Robyns.[2] On Broadway, Foa was replaced in 2006 by Howie Michael Smith.[3] Jonathan Root alternated with Tartaglia in the Las Vegas production of the show, and was the understudy for Smith on Broadway until June 18, 2009, when Seth Rettberg (from the first national U.S. tour) took over. Daniel Boys replaced Robyns on the West End in 2007.[4] On tour in the UK the role has been played Adam Pettigrew (2011) and Sam Lupton (2012). On the first national U.S. tour, he was played by Robert McClure,[5] who was later replaced by Seth Rettberg (McClure's understudy during the tour).

Rod is an extremely well-groomed, obsessively clean, and slightly hysterical closeted homosexual. He is secretly in love with his former college roommate and best friend, Nicky, and is an investment banker[6] (in the show, he reveals that he works on Wall Street[7]). He is also a conservative Republican.[6] He is very uptight (Nicky complains about him "ironing his underwear" in "It Sucks to Be Me"). Rod and Nicky are parodies of Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street.[8] In one of the musical's most popular songs, "If You Were Gay", Nicky, who is straight, encourages him to come out of the closet.

The musical indicates many times that Rod is gay before he comes out, including one of the numbers, "Fantasies Come True," in which we find out he is in love with Nicky, and the scene at Brian and Christmas Eve's wedding, in which Nicky admits he thinks Rod is a closeted homosexual. This causes one of Rod's denial streaks, trying to prove he isn't a "closeted homo-whatever" by talking about his imaginary girlfriend, Alberta, who lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada ("My Girlfriend Who Lives in Canada"). After this, he evicts Nicky from the apartment they share. However, at the end of the show, he comes out of the closet and wants Nicky to move back in with him. Nicky had found him a hunky, muscle-bound boyfriend named Ricky, who looks exactly like Nicky.

In 2004, Rod and puppeteer John Tartaglia appeared on the syndicated game show Hollywood Squares.[9] On the afternoon before one of the 2004 U.S. presidential debates, Rod (played by Tartaglia) moderated a mock debate in Times Square between puppet versions of George W. Bush and John Kerry (played by fellow Avenue Q puppeteers Rick Lyon and Jennifer Barnhart).[10]

Whitney Matheson of USA Today described Rod as "New York's most famous (and perhaps only) gay Republican puppet."[11]

Unlike the fat blue Anything muppet patterns on Sesame Street, this puppet has a face that resembles in shape to the heads of the Orange-gold patterns.


  1. ^ Gans, Andrew (2003-12-17). "Barrett Foa to Join Avenue Q Cast". Playbill. Archived from the original on 2008-09-07. 
  2. ^ Nightingale, Benedict (2006-06-29). "Avenue Q". The Times. London. Retrieved 2010-05-22. 
  3. ^ Hernandez, Ernio (2006-06-28). "Understudy Takes Handle of Princeton and Rod Puppets for Broadway's Avenue Q". Playbill. Archived from the original on 2008-10-31. 
  4. ^ Lipton, Brian Scott (2007-11-05). "Daniel Boys to Star in London Avenue Q". 
  5. ^ "'Avenue Q' on Tour: A Chat with Rob McClure". 2007-12-11. 
  6. ^ a b "New York 2004: New York/Going Out; 'Avenue Q' Star Comes Out Of Closet and Into the Ring". The New York Times. 2004-08-29. 
  7. ^ Jensen, Michael (2007-04-02). "Avenue Q still gets an A". 
  8. ^ Jones, Vanessa E. (2003-10-04). "Talk to the hand". The Boston Globe. 
  9. ^ Gans, Andrew (2004-01-23). "Avenue Q's Tartaglia Is a Hollywood Square". Playbill. Archived from the original on 2008-07-06. 
  10. ^ "Bush, Kerry puppets debate in Times Square". 2004-10-01. Archived from the original on 2007-11-20. 
  11. ^ "Notes from New York at the Republican National Convention—Day two: The teen delegate, puppets and bloggers". USA Today. 2004-09-01. 

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