Special Reports

A Timeline of Avenue Q Through the Lyrics of "For Now"

Find out what happened between George Bush and Donald Trump in the long-running musical’s perpetually updated finale.

The cast of Avenue Q at New World Stages.
The cast of Avenue Q at New World Stages.
(© Carol Rosegg)

Avenue Q — which launched its Broadway stay with a surprise Tony Award win for Best Musical in 2004 — will play its final performance on May 26 at New World Stages.

As the musical approaches the end of an impressive run, we decided to reflect on its 16-year history in New York City through a timeline of "For Now." On your Broadway cast album, one of the final verses of the closing number sounds like this:

Only for now! (Sex!)
Is only for now! (Your hair!)
Is only for now! (George Bush!)
Is only for now!

As promised, George Bush was only "for now," so if you've been dying to know just how that culturally relevant lyric has been updated through the years, here is your comprehensive list.

2003 – George Bush

Remember George W. Bush? America's 43rd president? By the time Avenue Q opened on Broadway, he had been in office for over two-and-a-half years, but we were just a few months into the Iraq War. Bush has since left office and moved on to a career in portrait art, so Avenue Q was right about him. It's yet to be proven if the laws of "For Now" also apply to the Iraq War.

2006 – Enron

This was a hot scandal of the early '00s. It was 2001 when the energy company filed for bankruptcy and shares plummeted from $90.75 to $0.26 (something about hidden debt and corrupt accounting, the details of which this theater journalist does not understand). The whole debacle was relatively old news until 2006, when Enron former chief executive Jeffrey Skilling and founder Kenneth Lay were found guilty of conspiracy and fraud. Skilling was sentenced to 24 years in prison, had the sentence reduced to 14 years, and was released from federal custody in February 2019. Lay died in July 2006, three months before his sentencing.

The cast of the Avenue Q celebrate their 2000th performance in 2008.
The cast of the Avenue Q celebrate their 2000th performance in 2008.
(© Joseph Marzullo)

2009 – Fox News

Fox News launched in 1996, but public opinion seemed to really solidify around the network following the 2008 presidential election. A 2009 Pew Research Center report stated: "Partisan differences in views of Fox News have increased substantially since 2007. Today, a large majority of Republicans view Fox News positively (72%), compared with just 43% of Democrats." If we could only tell our 2009 selves what the next decade had in store.

2010 – Prop 8

Prop 8 was a California ballot proposition and state constitutional amendment opposing same-sex marriage that passed in November 2008, and was subsequently ruled unconstitutional by a federal court in 2010. The ruling didn't go into effect until June 26, 2013, but Avenue Q (which had recently moved off-Broadway to New World Stages) seized the opportunity to celebrate Prop 8's impending demise.

Also 2010 – BP

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill (a.k.a. the BP oil spill) began on April 20, 2010, and became the largest environmental disaster in US history (Aaron Sorkin even framed his pilot episode of The Newsroom around the industrial disaster). BP eventually pleaded guilty to felony manslaughter, environmental crimes, and obstruction of Congress, and agreed to pay $4 billion in criminal fines and penalties in addition to an $18.7 billion settlement for Clean Water Act penalties and other claims. Sadly, BP does still exist, but we can still hope it's only for now.

2012 – NRA

The NRA (National Rifle Association) has been around since 1871, but there was an extra surge in frustration over the powerful lobbying group following the 2011 Tucson, Arizona, shooting that nearly killed Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. The organization went on to spend $32 million during the 2012 election cycle, so this particular lyric change was really just a nice bit of wishful thinking to send audiences on their way.

2014 – Ebola

The Ebola outbreak fortunately turned out to be one of the For-Nowest "For Now" references of the show's 16-year run. The West African epidemic lasted from 2014-16, and brought 11 cases to the United States, leading to widespread travel panic. However, on a less dismal note, it also gave us the term "Ebola Czar" — definitely not enough to qualify as a silver lining, but maybe a demitasse of lemonade.

2015 to Present – Donald Trump
There's something poetic about the presidential symmetry in Avenue Q's "For Now" lyrics. Hold onto that nice thought as we head into an Avenue Q-less 2020.

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Avenue Q

Closed: May 26, 2019


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