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International Bon Vivant and Raconteur

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July 22nd, 2009

The Toxic Avenger Musical [Jul. 22nd, 2009|09:13 am]
International Bon Vivant and Raconteur
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In 1984, Troma Films released the movie they're probably still best known for, The Toxic Avenger, a gross, tongue-in-cheek parody of the "teenager gets superpowers from radiation" superhero subgenre. Now, twenty-five years later, following on the heels of successful cult films turned musicals like Evil Dead: The Musical, itself riding the coattails of the movie-turned-musical movement invigorated by The Producers on Broadway, comes The Toxic Avenger Musical. (Coincidentally playing in the exact same off-Broadway theater in which I saw Evil Dead: The Musical, the New World Stages on West 50th Street.)

The Toxic Avenger isn't as good a movie as The Evil Dead in my opinion, so I was wondering whether the musical would be as enjoyable. Turns out it is, providing audiences with the same campy good fun and rousing musical numbers that made Evil Dead: The Musical such a success.

Songs like the opening number, "Who Will Save New Jersey?", are especially crowd pleasing for locals, while others like "My Big French Boyfriend," "Choose Me, Oprah," and "All Men Are Freaks" are both funny and catchy. The small cast is outstanding -- most play more than one character -- with special props going to Nancy Opel for the scene in which two of the characters she plays miraculously have an energetic, knock down, drag out fight on stage that was so well executed it resulted in the loudest applause of the night.

The set design was pretty cool too, a revolving piece designed to look like toxic waste barrels that makes the best use it can of the limited space available. Also fun were the musicians themselves, visibly rocking out in upper left corner of the stage and looking like they were having as good a time as the cast and audience.

When a musical about a toxic waste monster and his blind girlfriend leaves you with songs stuck in your head, it's a good sign that the creators have transcended the original material to make something wholly new and exciting.

I'm enjoying this new subgenre of cult films turned musicals, and can only imagine what will come next. Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!: The Musical? Re-Animator the Musical? I'll be first in line.
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