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The Toxic Avenger
a Musical Comedy
by Joe DiPietro (book and lyrics) and David Bryan (songs)

COMPANY : Marietta Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Theatre In The Square:Alley Stage [WEBSITE]
ID# 5383

SHOWING : October 19, 2018 - November 03, 2018



Melvin Ferd, the Third, wants to clean up Tromaville, the most polluted town in New Jersey (just off Exit 13B on the Turnpike). Foiled by the mayor’s bullies, Melvin is dumped into a vat of radioactive toxic waste, only to reemerge as The Toxic Avenger, New Jersey’s first superhero. Affectionately known as Toxie, our new hero is a mutant freak with superhuman strength and a heart as big as Newark. He’s out to save New Jersey, end global warming, and woo the blind librarian in town.

It’s a toxic love story with an environmental twist! "The Toxic Avenger" will leave audiences laughing in the aisles as it rocks the house. Featuring a wailin’ rock score, this comical musical has something for everyone to enjoy. Rated R for some adult humor and language.

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30% Ad Libs
by playgoer
Sunday, November 18, 2018
You don’t take a schlocky horror film and turn it into a musical without camping it up. That’s certainly the case with "The Toxic Avenger." Joe DiPietro’s book and David Bryan’s songs are full of over-the-top theatricality and reward additional "goosing" in performance. Spoofing the genre and adding comic shtick is in full force in Marietta Theatre Company’s production, which surpasses Horizon Theatre’s recent version in entertainment value.

The story starts with Melvin Ferd III (a lovably nerdy and golden-voiced Claudio Pestana) discovering that the town’s mayor (red-wigged Janine DeMichele Baggett) is profiting from toxic waste being dumped in his hometown of Tromaville, New Jersey. With the help of blind librarian and love interest Sarah (the delightfully loopy Sophie Decker), he gets the goods on her. Before he can make use of his evidence, though, he is dumped into a tub of toxic goo by a couple of the mayor’s goons (PJ Woods and John Jenkins) and becomes a green monster. The mayor attempts to destroy the monster, but truth and ecological consciousness prevail.

Ms. Baggett and Messrs. Wood and Jenkins take on a variety of roles, going through a costume shop’s worth of disguises from the Pumphouse Players to portray them all. Their energy and joy at performing pervades every moment of their performances. Mr. Pestana and Ms. Decker share their unbridled theatricality, making for a rollicking good time.

The set, designed by Will Brooks, features a lovely Manhattan skyline backdrop painted by his gravid wife Morgan. In front of this loveliness is a collection of detritus and biohazard containers on a high platform flanked by doorways at floor level. There’s a vat attached to the front of the platform where the transformation of Melvin to Toxie takes place. It’s all sufficiently industrial and trashy to give all of New Jersey a bad name.

Brad Rudy’s lighting plays up the lurid environment with lots of green light. His lighting is better than I’ve seen in previous productions at this venue, with pretty even illumination and few too-obvious transitions. L Gamble’s sound design and tracks are also good, with a good balance between the tracks and vocals. It helps that the voices are all loud and true.

Zac Phelps has directed the show to keep it moving quickly and with lots of gags and comic moments. His choreography suits the talents of the cast superbly, only occasionally putting the cast in a straight line across the stage that creates poor sightlines for audience members on the sides of the theater, which seems to be a persistent problem for this company. The show is definitely blocked to create the best experience for people in the main body of the audience.

The show itself is full of fun, and with terrific vocals the tuneful rock score goes down easy. Everyone gets copious opportunities to shine, and few opportunities are left unexploited. Ad libs (or seeming ad libs) abound. This is a silly, bright, energetic show that Marietta Theatre Company is doing up right. If Ms. Baggett’s turn in the first act closer doesn’t quite live up to Leslie Bellair’s Suzi Bass Award-winning turn at Horizon, it’s still tons of fun. The whole show is. Fun! [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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