Is toxic waste funny? Is an over sexed beautiful blind librarian who dreams of writing hot romance novels while bumping into walls and pouring tea into a lap instead of a cup funny? Is a corrupt female mayor who aspires to be governor, using her sexual charms to seduce to win at all costs and to cover up ownership of a toxic waste company – The Good Earth – funny? Are arms and legs being ripped from bodies, funny? You bet. You’ll laugh like a hyena.
For most of the show. The Toxic Avenger, a cartoon type musical, based on the 1984 cult film of the same name by Lloyd Kaufman which has just opened at New World Stages, has a limited shelf life in the outrageous, over the top, distasteful humor department. It’s a case of too far too fast.
It is, at times, hysterically funny. And you find yourself laughing at what you would normally find irreverent, crude or rude. As presented, certain situations become sheer madness where mayhem reigns supreme.
The plot is simple enough. Melvin Ferd the Third (an excellent Nick Cordero) loves blind Sarah (a very funny dead pan Sara Chase). He is attacked by two hoodlums who drop him into a toxic waste drum where he emerges as The Toxic Avenger who wants to clean up the Earth, at least New Jersey (the brunt of many jokes). He lives with his mom, Ma Ferd (a fabulous Nancy Opel) who also portrays Mayor Babs Belgoody.
Incredible as it may sound she portrays both characters simultaneously at one point to the immense glee of all who watch. Ms. Opel has two show stopping numbers – “Evil is Hot” and “Bitch/Slut/Liar/Whore” – a manic duet with herself.
The other characters – about ten – are played by the ultra talented Matthew Saldivar and Demond Green. You have never seen so many quick character and costume changes on stage as depicted here without a hitch. It’s fabulous frenzy. A terrific job by costume designer David C. Woolard and hair and wig designer Mark Adam Rampmeyer help this all to work.
Joe DiPietro is responsible for the wicked and witty book and lyrics. Music and lyrics by David Bryan. Mr. Bryan is keyboard player, songwriter and founding member of Bon Jovi. So if you love that sort of music, you’ll be on cloud nine here. John Rando directs with precision, pointing up all the dark humor. The Toxic Avenger, with its spate of Frat House humor eventually just turns silly. But who cares!
Everyone works feverishly hard at being outrageous. It’s a non-stop onslaught on our senses. Some scenes in this ninety minute, intermission less rock show work much better than others. The overall effect left me exhausted. www.THETOXICAVENGERMUSICAL.com