Curtain Up Theater Review by Camille Bounds: “The Toxic Avenger ”
Published online June 26, 2017
By Camille Bounds
The Stage gets braver every year. They have brought “The Toxic Avenger’s” regional premiere to San Jose, with book and lyrics by Joe DiPietro and Music and Lyrics By David Bryan. They based their undertaking on Lloyd Kaufman’s film of the same name.
This is a crazy plot that only a super solid cast of the five playing at least 10 characters or more – I lost track – could pull off. Add a strong director by Jonathan Williams, with wild choreography by CJ and Brett Blankenship, Brian Allan Hobbs leads his great orchestra without a flaw. Creative sets and lighting are delivered by Michael Palumbo with a huge video background by Vijay M. Rajan that brings the audience right into the scenes. Costume Designer Ashley Garlick went way out for this one, you have to see it to believe it.
Courtney Hatcher, Joshua Marx, Allison F. Rich, Will Springhorn, Jr,. and Branden Noel Thomas are unstinting of their energy and creativity. They are all excellent in their roles in this crazy plot and get it as close to sanity as possible. The dressers backstage should get an award with the many, many costume changes.
The surprise of the production belongs to Joe DiPietro and David Bryan who won four Tony awards for their musical “Memphis” that originated in our very own TheatreWorks and went on to Broadway. Bryan is a founding member of Bon Jovi and DiPietro’s hit musical’ review ‘I Love You Your perfect Now Change” and the comedy “Over The River and Through The Woods” are well known pieces in the theater world.
“The Toxic Avenger” takes us to Tromaville, a town in New Jersey, the most polluted place on the planet. Bullies throw our nerdy hero Melvan into a vat of toxic waste, figuring they would never see him again. Instead he surfaces horribly deformed, Superman strong and begins to fight the bullies and the corrupt powers that be in the town while falling in love with the beautiful blind Liberian. While everyone sings and dances to some great music and lyrics with a lot of laughs this is a well done different adventure that will surely keep your attention.
Perhaps not for everyone – it will make you think.
Camille Bounds is the theater, arts and travel columnist for the Morgan Hill Life and the Gilroy Life. She can be reached at [email protected]