The genre of the rock-musical is one that is still attempting to be fully and respectfully shaped, and could learn a lot from the lewd, wicked and complex musical that is “The Toxic Avenger.”
“The Toxic Avenger,” is a rock-musical based on the 1984 movie of the same name and was written by Joe DiPietro (book) and David Bryan (music and lyrics). It details the struggles of Marvin Ferd III (later known in the show as Toxie), as he attempts to save his hometown of Tromaville from an emergence of toxic waste that is smelling up the city.
After being dumped into the toxic waste by the town bullies, geeky and inadequate Marvin transforms into Toxie: a tall, hideous, man composed of green-slime who is still out to save Tromaville.
The show is equipped with a love story between Toxie and a blind librarian named Sarah, as well as a narrative on corrupt government leaders. Every issue presented in the show is tackled with wit and crude humor. Many of the jokes in the show include references to current issues we are facing in America, as well as pop-culture references. These included playful stabs at presidential candidate Donald Trump, Twilight book series author Stephanie Meyer and former talk-show host Oprah Winfrey.
The inappropriate humor of the show can be seen through some of the creatively witty song titles, including, “Thank God She’s Blind,” “Evil is Hot” and “Everybody Dies!”
One notable scene in the show was hailed by Topeka Civic Theatre as ‘the most memorable and unbelievable duet you’ll ever see on any stage’ involving two distinct characters that happen to be played by the same actress. The title of the song contains so many expletives, it cannot be listed here. From a technical standpoint, this duet required agility, speed and dedication from the actress portraying Marvin/Toxie’s mother and the city mayor (played by Karen Bartlett) as she would take turns switching character with herself, flying backstage to change costume and wig quickly, before running back onstage to belt out more of the song.
The actors were presented with a complex piece that they did a spectacular job of shining up. I don’t think that Topeka Civic Theatre’s production of “The Toxic Avenger” could have been presented any better, with extremely talented actors, actresses and musicians, a mood-setting stage atmosphere, and costumes/makeup that were beyond believable.
The situation in which a musical or play will make me laugh so hard to the point of tears comes rarely, but came wonderfully in the packaging of “The Toxic Avenger,” however it should be noted that due to the inappropriate but well-placed jokes, the show is not suitable for children.
“The Toxic Avenger,” will be playing at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays through Oct. 1, with 2 p.m. matinees Sept. 25 and Oct. 2, at the Helen Hocker Theater in Gage Park.