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'The Toxic Avenger' - Review

He Sings! He Dances! He Kills Polluters!

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating

By

B-movie turned musical, The Toxic Avenger gets most of its laughs poking fun a B-movies and musicals.

What This Show Is About

The Toxic Avenger, a new musical from a talented team, takes the same-named 1985 cult movie and spices it up with music and self-referencing humor.

The Toxic Avenger takes place in Tromaville, N.J., just across the polluted Hudson from Manhattan. There, Mayor Babs Belgoody plans to fund her run for the governor's mansion by making Tromaville the Switzerland of toxic waste. You can hide it there and no one will ever tell.

Crusading Melvin Ferd the Third is the fly in Babs' sludge vat, so a couple of her goons drop him in a barrel of glowing green goo. Melvin emerges bigger, stronger and a whole lot uglier.

Meanwhile, Sarah, the town's blind librarian, takes a liking to the noxious but nice Melvin, now named “Toxie,” and love, dismembering, singing and quick costume changes ensue.

What You'll Like About 'The Toxic Avenger'

Director John Rando knows a thing or two about putting wink-wink, self-referential musicals on stage. After all, he gave us the Tony-winning Urinetown. Backed up by Matthew Salvidar as “White Guy,” and Desmond Green as “Black Guy,” we are treated to comic tour de force performances as these two morph from goons, to cops, to Sarah's best friends (Diane and Shinequa) and on and on. They are hilarious.

Nancy Opel who plays Mayor Babs and Toxie's mom (at times on stage together . . . you've got to see it) is having the time of her life, and the audience loves her.

Beautiful Sara Chase as Sarah makes the most of musical moments put her pratfall performance using every blind gag there is makes her stand out.

Of course, it might be hard to see a droop-eyed, green-haired, ooze-spewing monster as a romantic lead, but Nick Cordero takes Toxie where Frankenstein has taken audiences for over a century. Despite his looks, we root for the guy.

A New Musical Team

The score of The Toxic Avenger is by veteran Joe DiPietro (I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change) and musical newcomer, Bon Jovi keyboardist David Bryan.

To be honest, you're going to think you've heard a lot of this music before. The Toxic Avenger is like an R-rated Little Shop of Horrors. But Little Shop had Alan Menken and Howard Ashman as the up-and-coming musical team. The Toxic Avenger doesn't play at that level.

This is a funny, funny show. Just keep your expectations in the real world then have fun in this alternative universe.

Where and When

  • New World Stages
    340 West 50th Street
  • Show Times and Tickets
  • Previews: March 18, 2009
  • Opening: April 6, 2009
  • Closing: Open-ended run
  • Run Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes (no intermission)
  • Genre: Musical
  • Advisories:
    Mature audiences
    Violence
    Profanity
    Simulated gun fire

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