Falconâ€™s ‘Toxic Avenger’ Proves Something Good Can Come Out of Toxic Waste
Review by Alan Jozwiak of Toxic Avenger: Falcon Theatre
â€œIf blind people donâ€™t love ugly people, then who will?
This very unpolitically correct remark comes from Ma Ferd in Falcon Theatreâ€™s Toxic Avenger and it perfectly captures the tone of this showâ€”outrageous, no-holds-barred, campy, and very funny.
This five-person musical, based off of the film by the same name, tells the tale of Melvin Ferd (Zac Huffman), a nerdy young man living in Tromaville, New Jersey, which is the site of major dumping for toxic waste.Â Trying to get to the heart of the mystery of who is responsible for the dumping, he gets blind librarian Sarah (Katie McCathy) to give him hidden city records which proves that the Mayor of Tromaville (Amy Grace Curtis) is behind it.Â This leads to Melvin being dumped into a vat of toxic waste which turns him into the Toxic Avenger, a mutant with a super messed up face, super strength, and super convictions to clean up Tromaville once and for all.
Without revealing too much more of the storyline, events become both campy and great fun as limbs get pulled out of their sockets, secrets revealed, hearts broken, and a climactic fight between the Toxic Avenger and the Mayor ensues.
Zac Huffman plays a great Toxic Avenger.Â He is at turns frightening and vulnerable, trying to figure out how best to deal with his new found strength and the fact that one of his eyeballs is falling out of its eye socket.Â Kudos to Gabby Leithsceal for her work on the special FX makeup.Â Huffman is able to play through the makeup, not letting it detract from his strong performance.
Katie McCarthy is sweet and wonderful as Sarah, the blind librarian who spurns Melvin, but loves the Toxic Avenger, whom she makes as her boyfriend and mistakenly thinks that he is French.Â Vocally McCarthy is the equal to Huffman, as both deliver strong vocal performances.
My only complaint with McCarthyâ€™s performance was the frequent number of times her character smacked into walls.Â There are limits for how much an audience will stand a blind character slamming into walls.Â I think McCarthy hit that limit (pun intended).
Special kudos go to Amy Grace Curtis who plays both Melvinâ€™s mother Ma Ferd and the Mayor of Tromaville.Â At one point, Curtis has to play both roles at the same time and she does it toÂ great effect.
Also strong were Black Dude, et al. (R. DeAndrÃ© Smith) and White Dude, et al. (Robert Breslin), who played everything from street thugs, hair stylists, police officers, and various female roles.Â Breslin had a lionâ€™s share of the female parts and looked surprisingly comely in a dress and womanâ€™s wig.
Director Charles Russell did a fine job moving the show along and Musical Director Jay Myers was also excellent in guiding her talented cast to sing their best.Â There were few false moments in this production, although I did feel sorry for the band who were exiled to a small pen at the back of the stage.Â The Monmouth Theatre has a smaller stage, but it would have been nice to find some other place to put the band.Â Because of the close quarters, one band member had his back to the audience for the entire time.
In short, Toxic Avenger is a campy, fun, irreverent, must-see musical.Â While it does like to poke fun at blind people, all of its characters get raked over the coals sometime during the musical in the spirit of Mel Brooksâ€™ The Producers.
So chug a glass of Hudson River water (something that will make sense to you once you see the show) and see Toxic Avenger.Â You will not be disappointed.
Toxic Avenger runs September 30 through October 15, with shows running Friday and Saturday during the first weekend and Thursdays through Saturdays during the second and third weekends. You can purchase tickets at http://falcontheater.net.