The Toxic Avenger

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5
The Toxic Avenger

This is precisely the breed of pop-culture mutant Off Broadway was made for: a winking rock & roll romp inspired by sci-fi schlock, crammed with a smorgasbord of showpieces for outsize comic talents to chew on. Audience appetites for such frothy runoff may vary according to age and degree of intoxication, but for most of its running time The Toxic Avenger is hard to resist on its own infectious terms. It's Shrek for stoners.

Joe DiPietro's script lifts only the barest premise from Lloyd Kaufman's dorky 1985 film: Melvin (Nick Cordero), a nerd in the polluted Jersey burg of Tromaville, gets dumped in a barrel of toxic waste by town bullies, mutating into a hideous but righteous superhero. Indeed, the show succeeds roughly in inverse proportion to the stage time given to the flimsy plot. This leaves Cordero, covered in prosthetics and bright green tendrils, to flail earnestly through Toxie's limb-severing heroics. But it also makes room for the formidable Nancy Opel to bring down the house as a corrupt mayor and her shrewish sister; for a gallery of billboard-broad caricatures sketched with relish by Demond Green and Matthew Saldivar; and for Sara Chase, as Toxie's hot blind squeeze, to milk her character's disability for all it's worth.

Will the serviceable rock score by David Bryan (of Bon Jovi fame) stick in your head? Not likely. This is one of those musicals in which the fact that it's a musical is one of the jokes, and luckily for The Toxic Avenger, the music isn't the only—or even the best—joke in the barrel.—Rob Weinert-Kendt

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New World Stages. Book and lyrics by Joe DiPietro. Music by David Bryan. Dir. John Rando. With ensemble cast. 1hr 40mins. No intermission. Buy tickets