BWW Interview: The Toxic Avenger's Brittany Gray Talks Lloyd Kaufman and Slime
Everyone out there has at some point likely had the desire to kick some booty, or dreamt of being on Oprah's famous couch, or hopefully experienced some Hot (Toxic) Love. These are all things you can hear sung about if you go and check out Dancap's The Toxic Avenger, currently playing at The Danforth Music Hall in Toronto. Funny, camp and with a rocking score, this is certainly not your typical night out at the theatre. Reviews have been very positive, with the audience having a blast every night as they are delighted with the amount of heart and laughter that gets put into this show. BroadwayWorld got the chance to sit down with Brittany Gray, who plays "Sarah, the Blind Librarian" and the love interest for the unlikely hero in the show. She talks about this break-out role, including favourite parts, challenges and what it was like to meet movie director Lloyd Kaufman.
First, congratulations on the success of The Toxic Avenger. I have been reading some very positive reviews about how well you are handling the show's material, specifically the fact that the role is so sexually charged. Do you ever find that you get a bit self-conscious presenting the material?
Not necessarily. I grew up as a dancer so I have always been comfortable with my body and I danced competitively and had to wear a lot of costumes, some of which were quite revealing. Basically I grew up with a frame of mind that instilled confidence with my body and my sexuality. Of course you can always get self-conscious sometimes, for example I have a scene where I have to rip my shirt open and expose my bra. Sometimes I might not be super comfortable with that, but I have never felt insecure about it either.
Your role is also very physically demanding and has a lot of physical comedy, how did you prepare for that?
It is very physical! We actually just gradually eased into it during rehearsals and as we learned the script we started to realize just how physically demanding it was. I must admit, I did get a lot of bruises during rehearsal from some of the silly physical comedy. Obviously you have to take care of yourself, I see a massage therapist and chiropractor every week to make sure my body is in alignment. But it is really fun, and stretching before is also crucial in order to take care of yourself.
Some of the material could be considered offensive, but you deliver it in a way that gets laughs ... do you ever worry that you might offend someone in the crowd?
I do, but I always find that you have to play your character sincerely and try not to worry about stuff like that, because when you start worrying, you lose the character. There are so many good messages in our show that outweigh the few lines that could be considered offensive to some people. It really is a beautiful story about how love is blind, and Sarah (my character) goes through this battle where she has to find out whether she cares about what someone looks like on the outside or who they are on the inside. There is a really great message in that and I find that I focus on that rather than on the one liners that could be construed as offensive.
It is important to go into a show knowing what it is and remember to not take yourself too seriously, and to their credit, our audiences have been really good about that. There really hasn't been a show like this before in Toronto and it is great to see how liberal and willing to laugh the audience is. It is a great way to take people away from their problems and just let them have a good time.
One thing I found unique about this production is the very small size of the cast, and the lack of intermission. Those two factors require you to be on stage almost constantly for the duration of the show, how do you keep your energy level up?
Well, the length of the show is quite short compared to other productions I have done. Also, I find that an intermission can actually bring the overall energy down and then you have to work to bring it back up. For our show, we gear ourselves up for an hour and a half of really high energy and we can commit to that. I find that an intermission can sometimes just grind everything to a halt whereas with our show, we do it all at once and never have to work to regain the audience. I love not having one and the length of the show is perfect. I find that the audience seems to enjoy it as well, this way you can go to the theatre and not have to devote your entire evening to it. You have time afterwards to grab a drink or dinner.
Do you have a favourite song or scene to perform?