BoomStick Theater production of Toxic Avenger is nothing short of extraordinary, capable of dishing out laughs and groans in equal measure. Filled with standout harmonies and fantastic comedic performances this one is guaranteed to delight and disgust.
Toxic Avenger The Musical
A BoomStick Theater Production
Written by Joe De Pietro & David Bryan.
Based on the Lloyd Kauffman Troma cult film
Directed by Kevin Wetmore
Zephyr Theatre, 7456 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046, USA
Sep 28th - Oct 26th
Tickets at www.boomsticktheater.com
Raucous laughter fills the cozy West Hollywood Zephyr Theatre as BoomStick Theater Company closes out its season with a nuclear performance. Founded in 2018, they are a team dedicated to producing and giving a platform to original and lesser-known works and certainly continue that trend in their production of the cult classic film turned musical, Toxic Avenger.
I must admit that I wasn't too familiar with the gooey green hero, but the musical follows the same basic story that Kaufman and Herz produced in the 1984 original. The story is simple enough, set in the fictional town of Tromaville, N.J. It is a charming tale of an unlikely hero, his endearing blind girlfriend, and a crooked New Jersey mayor round it off with a pair of guys who play just about everyone else in town, from bullies, mobsters, old ladies, to wig wearing back up singers. You have a hilarious, if not uncouth, an evening of theatre ahead of you.
The action kicks off when our protagonist Nerdy Melvin Ferd the Third (Loïc Suberville) is determined to clean up Tromaville, the most polluted town in the tri-state area, all while hopefully winning the affection of the love of his life, the local town librarian (Lennon Hobson) who just happens to be blind.
After Melvin discovers the Mayor is behind the nefarious act of polluting the city, his eco-conscious efforts are quickly foiled by the Mayor's two goons when she orders them to dump Melvin into a vat of toxic radioactive waste. The goons played by Huck Walton and Quinton Guyton, each respectively billed as "White Dude" and "Black Dude," supremely perform at least half a dozen characters throughout the show. Their commitment and ability to completely transform themselves from scene to scene is worth the ticket price alone.
Speaking of the Mayor, Rachel Rios absolutely nails the role of corrupt Mayor Babs Belgoody. Rios also has the distinction of doubling as the nagging and continuously disappointed in her son Ma Ferd. Her Act 1 duet with herself is a musical tour-de-force and had the entire audience struggling to breathe from laughter. Katie Lynn Mapel, who provides the excellent makeup for the show, rounds out the intimate cast as a swing/ensemble member.
BoomSticks' production goes above and beyond crafting the world of Tromaville. The meticulously built set design is a sight to behold; they really make the most of the space provided at the Zephyr Theatre.
The music is the real star of the show. The campy songs are some real ear-worms with the likes of "My Big French Boyfriend," "Choose Me, Oprah!", "The Legend of the Toxic Avenger" and Suberville's beautiful and moving solo of "You Tore My Heart Out" are all extremely memorable. Supported by a great 5 piece live band that expertly plays the pop/rock-influenced score. Their work is especially notable in maintaining the energy in the theater's small space since the cast members' voices are not electronically amplified.
Not only does the cast have marvelous voices, but their comedic timing is synchronized, and the little winks to the audience and improvisations in each of their performances are such a treat to enjoy. While there may only be five actors in the play, the constant character and costume changes make it look like a cast of twenty-plus. You can see the hard preparation put into the show by the entire cast – again hats off to Walton and Guyton on the slick execution of their rapid-fire character changes.
Some of the jokes probably wouldn't have been written in 2019. You have to remember this is based on a 1980's "B-Movie" and its shenanigans. If you leave your preconceptions at the door, I ensure you will have a good time.
Overall, if you are like myself and have never seen the musical before or the original movie, I highly encourage you to go check this one out. BoomStick absolutely delivers in this production. With an overabundance of silly gags, well-choreographed dance routines, fantastic singing, hilariously delivered lines from campy characters all wrapped up in a cautionary environmental message that ensures Toxic Avenger is a real hit.
Run, don't walk to the Zephyr Theatre, and check this one out.