Right this second in New Jersey, 2 miles away from Tromaville in fact, I sit atop an old hazardous chemicals canister that doubles as my computer desk in the toxic dumping grounds (it was empty, but thanks for your concern). I’ve been experimenting in my lab. No, I’m not trying to discover a cure for Toxie’s grossness, but I am trying to find out if the soundtrack to The Toxic Avenger Musical holds up after multiple listens. In order to figure this out, I’ve been alternating between blasting it’s songs for a few minutes then immersing the disc in mass quantities of green chemicals. After all, the theme of the musical is “be green,” right? Ohhhh, they meant, like, the environment and stuff? Well, if I discover the CD is that good, I’ll never have to throw it away, hence making LESS GARBAGE in New Jersey! It’s a win-win!
Not to be a blowhard, but I was lucky enough to review The Toxic Avenger Musical when it premiered in New Brunswick, NJ (click here for the review). After the show, the tunes wouldn’t leave my head for the rest of the night. Seriously, from a guy’s point of view, plays and musicals don’t seem to appeal to us as much as they do to girls. Personally, I enjoy going to a play once in a while like Rock of Ages, and even though not the studliest of musicals, Chicago. It really isn’t too bad, but how many guys do you know that would drive around town in their vehicle with their windows down blasting “Dance: Ten; Looks: Three” from A Chorus Line? For those who don’t want to risk it, they can feel A-OK about popping in the Original Cast Recording of The Toxic Avenger Musical.
Be advised that this is not some half assed rip off of the Troma classic, The Toxic Avenger. Unlike The Wedding Singer, and Legally Blonde, this is a sharply written, hallucinogenic, metaphorical, musical comedy. Now let’s see what David Bryan and Joe DiPietro can create with that mound of descriptions! It’s likely whatever they come up with wouldn’t be able to go face to sludge with the outlandish fun they’ve created for the soundtrack to the Toxic Avenger Musical.
“It’s never the same pus from one moment to the next.”
Sounds like it might be some dialogue from a song on The Toxie Musical Soundtrack, right? WRONG! It’s actually some dialogue from Waiting for Godot, the play you WON’T have to go see if you can convince your girlfriend to STAY HOME and listen to the Toxic Avenger soundtrack that you ordered. Trust me, this will work if you promise to act out Toxie’s parts! (Just get a mop and glue some green jello to your face, you’ll be fine.) Now this is more like it:
“There’s a place between heaven and hell, don’t need a map just follow the smell…a place filled with filthy air…a place filled with dark despair… A place called New Jersey! New Jersey….The Garden State.”
“There’s an exit called the 13B, right off the Turnpike where it smells just like pee…” To the rare breed of people who actually defend NJ from it’s constant pop culture persecution, this stuff is bittersweet, immortal poetry. Finally, these heartwarming sentiments have permanently etched their way into Broadway! So, Suck it New York City! haha. The words of the songs may seem elementary at first listen, but at least you won’t have to use an iPhone app to decipher the meanings of the songs. The easily relatable ideas of physical freakishness and pollution are two themes the soundtrack imaginatively evokes.
DANGER: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS HAZARDOUS CHEMICALS!
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J – A musical version of Troma’s classic cult film The Toxic Avenger made it’s debut at the George Street Playhouse on Friday night October 10th 2008, and The Sexy Armpit crashed the premiere party. OK, so we didn’t crash, they actually let us come. I’ve never seen a play on the George Street stage, but as I crossed the street and saw flood lights and a huge Toxie billboard, I knew they were providing a fitting reception for Troma’s first son Toxie. My imagination was sparked before I even made my way into the building. Instead of a red carpet, a black carpet covered the ground and stairs leading up to the entrance. The carpet was splattered with bright green “sludge” and boot prints as if Toxie walked into the playhouse just before I did. It’s the cool little details that impress me.
After having a wacky conversation with creator and director of Troma films, Lloyd Kaufman, my colleague Big Sal (formerly of ECW) and I got our tickets ripped, sat our asses down, and then just let the anticipation and excitement fester until showtime. Apprehension came over me as I worried how a musical version of the cult classic The Toxic Avenger would turn out. Was there a need for a Toxic Avenger musical? Hell yes! Toxic Avenger is a well known character but mostly with fan boys and the cult film obsessed folks. Toxie is finally getting his due.
“This is disturbing…”
“This is disturbing…”
“This is disturbing…”
“This is disturbing,” an older woman sitting behind me whispered at least four times. She felt the need to announce her declaration to the people on her left and right. The play was only a few minutes underway and I felt like showing her what was disturbing! I suppose she had no clue what kind of images were in store for her as the tale of Toxie unfolded. Was she at all familiar with the first superhero from New Jersey? Would she be even more appalled when she realized that people would be maimed and beaten with their own limbs on stage? Would she be aghast at the blind jokes? Had she ever lived a moment of her stuffy life as an outcast? Could she related to Melvin Ferd the 3rd’s feelings of rejection? I would soon find out. Although, I can bet that this minuscule piece of glowing, radioactive pop culture has no place in her hoity-toity lifestyle. Toxie was made for us, not them!
The George Street Playhouse, thanks to it’s stadium style seating, enables everyone in the house to enjoy an unobstructed view of the stage. The set, designed by Beowulf Boritt, was adorned with vats of fuming toxic chemicals and an old beat up turnpike sign. The sign warned the audience they were no longer in New Brunswick, but Exit 13, Tromaville. The set atmosphere made me feel like I was in a comic book and it was the perfect combination of gross and eerie. Thankfully the show did not rely on over the top special effects, but there were plenty of sight gags, costume changes, and a revolving set piece in the middle of the stage that helped suspend our disbelief. My attention was fixed on the infinitely talented actors who dazzled the stage. The full band was ready to rock as the actors seized the spotlight.
A guy coughs from the awful fumes rising from the NJ turnpike while a nun prays “Who will save New Jersey?” From the looks of it, we actually do need a savior! The once beautiful Tromaville is being polluted by New York City and the corrupt mayor is to blame. Meanwhile the geeky Melvin Ferd the 3rd is in love with a cute blonde and blind librarian named Sara. Melvin stumbles upon the Mayor’s plans that could further ruin the environment and the Mayor’s career if they were released. The Mayor instructs her thugs to “get the geek,” but it backfires after they drop him into a vat of toxic chemicals. Melvin emerges deformed and oozing with toxic neon green sludge. Makes you want to think twice about moving to Jersey, huh? Hence, New Jersey’s first superhero is born, The Toxic Avenger! Toxie plans on dethroning the corrupt Mayor and eliminating pollution from the Garden State. Minor details of the original film were altered in order to modernize the story. Although, If you’re a hardcore Toxie fan, don’t worry you won’t be disappointed! Live theater is usually the perfect venue to see some stellar performances but on this night, there was an air of magic. It was obvious that the players were enthusiastic about there roles and there were no “I can’t believe I’m doing this” attitudes.
Deformed and doused in sludge, was Nick Cordero as he bravely took on the main role of the geeky Melvin Ferd the Third and the legendary superhuman Toxic Avenger. The Mayor of Tromaville proclaims him a terrorist, even though he’s trying to rid New Jersey of it’s toxic waste. Cordero’s performance as Toxie at times recalled the despondence of the Phantom in Phantom of the Opera as well as the zealous and fiery performance of Sebastian Bach several years ago in Broadway’s Jekyll & Hyde. The operatic rock songs flourished thanks to Cordero’s rousing, dynamic voice. Toxie even made his way into the audience during “Everybody Dies.” I thought the lady behind me would have a coronary.
Nancy Opel’s (Urinetown) performance is truly dazzling as she takes on double duty playing Melvin’s mother as well as the Mayor of Tromaville. As Melvin’s mother she’s noticeably disgusted at how he can never get anything right. Even when her son becomes a toxic monster she wonders “Could you at least put your left eyeball where it’s supposed to be?” It was apparent that Opel sunk her teeth into this role especially during a fun and frantic scene where Toxie’s mom and the Mayor have a run in (It‘s impossible!). It’s a scene right out of a Three’s Company episode. There were plenty of winks at the audience like the moment where the Mayor’s searching for Melvin and claims “I’ll find him, I know his mother.” Watch out for Opel and Demond Green’s steamy performance of “Evil is Hot,” it was so freakin’ hot!
Certain actors are born performers while others hone their skills, and chip away in a never-ending attempt to be great. Audra Blaser (Bandidas) is a born performer. Her portrayal of the innocent, blind librarian Sara, love interest of Toxie, proved to be a highlight of the play. How can that snooty lady behind me get offended at blind jokes when such an adorable, and refreshing actress is the butt of them? I was surprised by Blaser’s knack for comedy which obviously didn’t pass by the casting director’s radar either. Not only is Sara funny but also compassionate as she wonders why Toxie isn‘t mauling her: “If you’re gay, we can still be best friends and watch American Idol together.” I’m glad the casting folks stayed true to the original characters. Blaser showed no signs of worry, although she had some pretty big shoes to fill since the role of Sara previously belonged to some of the quirkiest, and offbeat actresses including Andree Maranda, Phoebe Legere, and Heidi Sjursen. The dreamy Blase was joined by Demond Green and David Josefsberg during the song “My Big French Boyfriend” which was possibly the funniest moment in entire the show.
The sentence “As black dude and white dude, Demond Green and David Josefsberg are quite versatile actors” holds the record for BIGGEST understatement of all time. I don’t think I can count how many different characters these two guys appeared as. Whether they were guys, girls, thugs, Springsteen wannabes, or hairdressers, they were thoroughly entertaining and proved to be an immense force of comic relief.
Having two famous Jersey guys on the writing staff didn’t hurt a bit. Joe DiPietro (I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change) wrote the book and lyrics while David Bryan (keyboardist of Bon Jovi) wrote music and lyrics to this rocking musical. The ingenious songs proved to be the productions’ throbbing, slimy nucleus. You’ll only need to experience the show once and you’ll realize they’re just as memorable and catchy as songs from the soundtracks of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Little Shop of Horrors. I want the songs on my iPod already! I’ve probably been to almost 50 live theater performances in my life and the minority of them featured songs that I would actually think of listening to elsewhere. This exuberant soundtrack has joined the minority!
Toxic Avenger the Musical was directed by Tony Award winning director John Rando (Urinetown). Props (no pun intended) to another Jersey native John Dods for creating superb special effects and prosthetics. Dods has worked on some of my favorite films and TV shows including Monsters ‘88-‘91, Ghostbusters II, and Black Roses!
The spirit of Lloyd Kaufman’s film making style was ever present. Judging by this show, you don’t need a cast of hundreds to put on a successful and entertaining production. Perhaps other productions can take a lesson from The Toxic Avenger (or they should read Lloyd Kauffman’s book All I Need to Know About Filmmaking I Learned from the Toxic Avenger). In this case, improvising is the catalyst for some of the musical’s best moments. For the true Toxie fans, you’ll see nods to the original series like when Toxie slam dunks some thugs severed head. In another signature Toxie move, he pulls open his pants to check out how the size of his manhood mushroomed! I’m sure Sara will be pleased!
The Toxic Avenger musical completely squashed my apprehensions with it’s outlandish fun. In classic New Jersey fashion, the audience gave a raucous standing ovation while clapping and rocking out. Expect your cheeks to hurt from laughing and your eyes to be glued to the stage. At the end of the show, for the first time in my life I wanted to be doused in some of that hazardous neon green ooze emitting from the marshes of Exit 13. Oh, and if you’re at all like that woman sitting behind me, then stay home and watch Masterpiece Theater or I may toss your big old pretentious ass into a bubbling vat of toxic sludge!
Photos displayed above from The Toxic Avenger Musical by David Saint and T.Charles Erickson.
Now here’s some photos from the Premiere Party!
Whenever a Horror or Pop Culture convention rolls through town I always wind up missing it. I used to make it an event and go with my Dad every year but as I got older and actually started working full time, the weekend became a time to cram everything in that I neglect during the week. Even though weekends are busy, I’m realizing life is too short and I should be doing things that I enjoy. If going to a concert is the best way for me to spend my hard earned cash, then blowing the rest of it at a convention is a close runner up. In fact, not only did I make it to a convention this weekend, but as soon as I got back from my near hour drive I was off to Crue Fest at the PNC Bank Arts Center. Talk about a jam packed day of pop culture!
Chiller Theatre is the most well known Horror & Nostalgia show in the Tri-State area. It attracts a slew of actors, musicians, and personalities from horror movies and pop culture. Another convention that has made a big name for itself in the past several years is Monster Mania. Monster Mania took place at the Crowne Plaza in Cherry Hill and featured Robert Englund, A Lost Boys Reunion, and a Halloween Reunion.
Getting overwhelmed at one of these shows is ridiculously easy. If you’ve never been to one I’d actually advise you to NOT bring too much cash because you WILL unload it ALL! There’s so many vendors and sellers that have copious amounts of “stuff.” It all happens to be “stuff” that you NEED! From obscure bootleg horror movies to rare action figures and magazines, you will find it all at a convention. It’s almost like a flea market except it only sells the coolest crap. When walking around one of these events you might forget eBay ever existed because everything you ever wanted, and everything you didn’t even realize you wanted is all there spread out in the hotel’s convention centers. And oh…did I mention the celebs? Ok, we’re not talking A-listers like George Clooney but people who are much closer to our hearts. You might want to take your picture with Freddy Krueger himself, Robert Englund. He’s such a cool guy that he’ll put the glove on and ham it up as Freddy in your picture. That’s a photo op that you’ll tell people about for the rest of your life! Adam West did a similar thing for me also. The personalities that appear at these events are usually people who love to interact with their fans.
The real grabber for me, aside from The Two Coreys, was Danielle Harris. I spent most of my life having a major crush on her. One of the main reasons is because I used to watch the Halloween 4 and 5 and I related to her since we were almost the same age. I remained a fan through the movies that followed although they weren’t big budget films nor were they easy to find. The overlooked Killer Bud actually became one of my favorites. Who knew that she’d have such a resurgence with Rob Zombie’s Halloween? When I found out that she would be coming back for the Zombie version I turned into a smitten little bitch all over again. I was waiting for her name to appear on the guest list at one of these horror conventions and sure enough, she was signed on to appear at Monster Mania along with some of the other stars of the Halloween series.
When I met her, I told Danielle that I brought her a Sexy Armpit T-Shirt, which was based off my blog. She actually said that it was really cool because she wears shirts people give her alot and the tank she was wearing was actually from a fan also. Danielle was cool enough to take a picture with me holding the shirt.
I never thought I’d say that I got to meet Corey Haim and Corey Feldman considering that I’ve seen basically all of their movies collectively. That’s a difficult task since there’s so many films that they’ve done which no one’s ever heard of. I haven’t just seen those, I own them. That’s how much of a dork I am. If you grew up in the ’80s and were young enough to think these guys were cool then you know what I mean. Heck, anyone who was always on the cover of Bop and Teen Beat were considered cool. It didn’t matter if you were a guy or a girl, you appreciated that crew. If it was Nicole Eggert or Alyssa Milano, or The Two Corey’s it was almost a prerequisite to revere them. If not, then you probably weren’t the right age. All I know is, their movies were all anyone my age talked about for a few years. Then it all got weird. Just like with Danielle Harris, I remained a fan.
Getting to meet The Two Corey’s was possibly the closest thing to surreal as it gets. For a kid who knows all their lines to their movies and used to mimic the things they did, I still can’t believe that I was talking to them face to face. I wasn’t really excited though, it was more weird than anything. I almost wet my pants when I met Nikki Sixx from Motley Crue but meeting The Two Corey’s just made me feel like I was having an outer body experience. I guess the possibility of meeting them never even crossed my mind.
I can’t say it was a let down, but Haim is out of his mind and Feldman is kind of a dick. Suzie just liked to horn in on Feldman’s every word and interaction. She was noticeably agitated that I was ignoring her and talking it up with her husband who’s actually talented. Thanks Yoko. I bet The Two Corey’s would still be on the air if it weren’t for you! I don’t give a crap if you were in Playboy! You’re mooching off the fame of one part of The Corey’s. Now that’s pretty much sabotaging yourself.
It was definitely hard to come up with something to say to these two. I knew I’d mention one of my favorite Feldman roles but Haim seemed so drugged up that he wasn’t even making much sense. Perhaps it’s true that all the years of drugs actually did fuck him up so bad that he has a major slur. Who knows. All I know is Haim told the kid before me in line that he was “very close to getting Robin.” That meant that he was in the contention for the role of Robin in the Batman film franchise. As far as I know there’s no plans for Robin in future Batman films AT ALL, so maybe I could get the role of Nightwing if I take whatever pills he had in his system!
As for Feldman, I tried to throw him a joke but he wasn’t too receptive. You would think he’d appreciate that some guy respects his work so much that he remembers a minor role he had from 1988 (Ricky Butler from “The ‘burbs”). I didn’t want to be like everyone else and talk about The Goonies. In fact, alot of the people were pulling the exact thing that he hated by asking him to say certain lines from some of his movies. That is kind of rude in a way because he’s not a sideshow, at least show him that much respect. I think I might react the way he did if I was put on the spot like that. The girl before me asked him to say a certain line from one of his films and he got noticeably perturbed and said “c’mon that was 20 years ago.” Damn these guys are bitter aren’t they?
I don’t think there’s such thing as a child star curse. I think it’s that certain people just can’t cope with not having fame. Fame provides them with self worth and that’s the unhealthy part. Who knows, they may not turn to drugs or create shitty bands like The Truth Movement if they truly loved themselves. Regardless of seeing how fucked up they really are, it was cool to meet them and I’ll never abandon their movies!
How can I forget to mention what I bought at Monster Mania? I picked up a fantastic Toxic Avenger box set at the Troma Films table. I’ve been trying to track down the complete set of Toxie films and I wanted to make sure that they had the ENTIRE animated series included as well. This box set has it all so I was happy to plunk down the cash for it, otherwise it would sit on my amazon wishlist forever.
Among all the fanboys and girls and just plain horror freaks, I noticed a lot of awesome tattoos. One nasty giantess wearing fishnets and an uncomfortably skimpy black number had a tattoo on her arm of David Bowie’s “Jareth” from Labyrinth. I would’ve commended her on it, but she scared the hell out of me and she was kinda gross! Luckily this girl was able to wash the bad taste out of my mouth:
She had a kickass JEM tattoo that I noticed from about 10 feet away! I went up to her like my usual psycho self and said “yo! cool Jem tattoo! Can I take a picture?” She must’ve thought I was a weirdo, but who cares! lol.
If you haven’t made it out to a convention, make sure you experience one. You’ll have alot of fun, see alot of cool stuff for sale, and possibly meet some of your idols! What’s up next? Chiller Theatre!