Let 'Toxic Avenger' Rip Your Heart Out At New Village Arts
Musical based on Troma superhero gets concert reading this weekend
I have to confess that Toxie, as he is affectionately called, and I have been booth mates at Comic-Con for years, so I’m not entirely unbiased about this Troma Entertainment superhero. Troma, a truly independent film company founded by Lloyd Kaufman, created "The Toxic Avenger" in 1984, but Toxie wasn’t always a hideously deformed superhero.
"He starts out his real name is Melvin Ferd the 3rd and he’s kind of a little geeky, wannabe scientist, activist, and he gets thrown into a toxic vat of goo by the town bullies and he turns into the Toxic Avenger," explained Zackary Scot Wolfe, who performs the roles of Melvin and Toxie in this weekend's concert reading by New Village Arts.
The film spawned multiple sequels and was transformed into a stage musical in 2008. More recently, Tony Houck, music director at New Village Arts stumbled upon the work.
"I was at home and flipping through my Broadway HD subscription and I saw that they had the 'Toxic Avenger' on there and I said, ‘That sounds fun and interesting let's check it out,'" Houck said. "So I watched it and I fell in love with it. The music's fantastic. It's written by David Bryan who's in Jon Bon Jovi's band, and he wrote the music for 'Memphis' the musical. So it's a lot of fun rock music and I just love the themes. It's like a classic love story but then the Toxic Avenger is fighting for the planet, and that's very topical right now."
A.J. Know is artistic director for New Village Arts and directs the upcoming "Toxic Avenger: The Musical."
"The way the show is written is for a five-person cast but it's got about 35 characters. So three of the cast members play multiple characters. In fact, Melissa Fernandez has a duet with herself, which is a really incredible. We can't say the title of it on the air but it's a really incredible song. And I think there’s a joy to watching actors switch between roles instantaneously," Know said.
Audiences will have to bring their imaginations to the concert reading this weekend since there are no sets or costumes. They will get the songs fully performed but some of those titles can’t be mentioned here because they contain offensive language.
"The ones I can say are ‘Thank God She's Blind,'" Houck said. "The girl that he likes is blind and he's glad she's blind because she can't see what he looks like; She has to focus on who he is inside. There's 'Hot Toxic Love' and then there’s the 'You Tore My Heart Out,' where his heart gets broken."
New Village Arts recently staged a wildly inventive production of "Little Shop of Horrors." "Toxic Avenger" has a similar horror comedy vibe and sense of camp.
"I love goofy shows and I love goofy shows that have a heart," Knox added.
Let Toxie rip your heart out as "Toxic Avenger: The Musical" gets a concert reading Saturday, Oct. 26 and Sunday, Oct. 27 at New Village Arts in Carlsbad.