It's the funniest Summer Musical I have ever seen at the HIPP. (And that includes Trailer Park Musical.)
The set (Mihai Ciupe, Scenic Designer) is lovingly repulsive - human-sized canisters of glowing goo, lighting (Robert P. Robins, Lighting Design) infected with gloriously nauseating green, a top soundtrack recording by local music masters (Bryan Mercer, Ali Che'Ree, Joel Saidi, Lorenzo Sanford) that absolutely rocks the house; this loud grungy gag-fest is uproariously funny. It feels like the best of professional theatre mixed with the flair and unadulterated abandon of outsider FringeFest shows. The cast is all in. Nothing is held back. The energy is bombastic. It's Monty Python-meets-Ren & Stimpy on steroids. And the costumes (Alyssa Couturier, Costume Designer & Marilyn A. Wall, Costume Design Consultant) are absolute genius!
I won't tell you a damn thing about the story, except to say it happens in New Jersey, in Tromaville, there's a black guy and a white guy (actual character names in the script) playing multiple gender-bending roles, there's an awkward Nerd, a terrifying Monster with a roar so nasty you can smell it in the back row--he likes to rip off arms when he's not being a sensitive romantic--you'll meet his impassioned blind love interest, and please note a remarkable dual-role by the incomparable Kelly Atkins that is so accomplished, she eventually does them both at the same time. The show is correctly politically incorrect.
* Kelly Atkins (Mayor Babs Belgoody/Ma Ferd/Nun): Physical operatic Wiz-o-Oz tornado, functioning in dual-dimensions.
* Dave Schoonover (Melvin Ferd the Third/Toxic Avenger): Transformation from Nerd to Beast--profound!
* Jordan Silver (White Dude): Makes Joseph Gordon-Levitt seem ugly and boring.
* Nathaniel Tenenbaum (Black Dude): Powerful presence & voice, extreme comedic timing.
* Maria Kerrigan (Sarah): Blindly, desperately in love, but when she feels Toxie's face...
Did I mention the singing is awesome?
Did I mention the remarkable props (Rob Leach, Properties Designer) probably required a hazmat suit?
Did I mention the sound design (Amanda Yanes, Sound Design) is ripping with clarity and energy?
DId I mention the choreography (Stephanie Lynge, Choreography) is electrifying?
DId I mention there's a nun in the show?
You'll see the fastest quick-changes in the history of Theatre.
It's a cartoon! The audience broke out in thunderous applause after each and every number, and returned to the cast an extended standing ovation for the end. I overheard a fellow actor asking, "How are they ever going to maintain this energy for the run." I thought, because these actors have completely bought into this world, they're outstanding professionals who know how to deliver the goods, and they're all probably flippin' nuts." Don't bring lozenges to this show. Comedy comes from all directions when you least expect it...you'll choke and die. Hold your drinks firmly in hand, but do drink. Intoxication and the Toxic Avenger make good bedfellows. Don't analyze the deeper meaning of the show, and give yourself permission to laugh--you will anyway, whether you want to or not. The theme is pretty simple: quit ruining the planet and try to love each other and embrace our commonality, or you'll get your arms torn off.
I can not bring myself to share more details. You absolutely must make this play a part of your Summer and see for yourself. All I can reveal is that the most charming moment at the end of the show (which will leave you with a lump of irradiated joy and nostalgia jammed down your chortling/screaming throat) is small and cute and green.
The TOXIC AVENGER - The Musical!
Book & Lyrics by Joe DiPietro
Music & Lyrics by David Bryan
Musical Director, Bryan Mercer (Remember him as the lead from the HIPP's last production, The Elephant Man? You want to talk about talent?)
Music recorded at Skylab Recording Studios:
Ali Che'Ree, Gerry King, Mark G. Pinske, Recording and Mastering
DIRECTED BY LAUREN CALDWELL
Director Lauren Caldwell Music Director Bryan Mercer Choreographer Stephanie Lynge Stage Manager Amber Wilkerson Assistant Stage Manager Katie Grayson Production Manager Michael Eaddy Costume Designer Alyssa Courturier Costume Shop Supervisor Jessica Kreitzer Costume Coordinator Tyranny Dugué Griffith Wardrobe Erin Jester Lighting Designer Bob Robins Master Electrician Jed Daniels Scenic Designer Mihai Ciupe Sound Designer Amanda Yanes Props Designer Rob Leach
CLICK HERE FOR TICKET INFORMATION AT THE HIPP!
TOXIC AVENGER INFORMATION AT THE GAINESVILLE SUN