BWW Review: TOXIC AVENGER at Longmont Theatre Company
You probably have an idea of what you're getting yourself into if you're going to see The Toxic Avenger musical with Longmont Theatre Company. Much like its '80s cinematic counterpart, it's campy and doesn't take itself too seriously.
There's Melvin Ferd the Third (Joshua Leisure) a scrawny geek who loves the blind town librarian, Sarah (Emily Gerhard). But when he's tossed into a vat of toxic waste by the town bullies (Preston Adams and Marcus Neppl, who also play a collection of other townsfolk), he's transformed in the Toxic Avenger, and he must stop the malevolent mayor of Tromaville (Rachel Brady, who also plays Melvin's Ma) from turning the New Jersey city into even more of a toxic waste dump.
The book (by Joe DiPietro) is oozing with wit, and the music (by David Bryan of Bon Jovi) is consistently catching, with plenty of room for the cast to show off their vocals. And that's where they shine best.
It's the comedy that feels a bit under-rehearsed. The timing is frequently loose, and some scattered unnecessary ad libs don't fill the spaces quite as organically as it should. The costuming (by Judy Ernst) is clever, giving each character a defined look despite many being played by the same actor...however, some characterizations aren't as heightened as the campy script requires. It would have been enjoyable to see more use of accents or defining personality quirks.
Leisure gives a nice transformation from Melvin's geekiness to Toxie's strength, leaving room for the character's heart to develop a cute relationship with Gerhard's Sarah. Her humor was the most developed of the cast, bringing an entertaining mix of candor and sex appeal. Brady gives a humorous distinction between the personalities of Mayor Belgoody and Melvin's Ma, and her song "Bitch/Slut/Liar/Whore" is a shining moment, although it's a bit derailed by costuming issues. Adams and Neppl are best when playing characters like the town bullies and Sarah's female best friends, but when it comes to some simpler roles, they could have a bit more fun.
The set design (by Bunk Hess) is excellent, using the theatre's space to its full advantage. There's an amusing amount of detail, the toxic waste barrels glow and a collection of flats give each scene its own space.
If you're looking for a festive night out in Longmont this weekend, The Toxic Avenger is a solid choice.
Directed by Jim Kimbrough, The Toxic Avenger plays its final performances tonight at 7:30 and 11 p.m., with a costume contest held before the 11 p.m. show. Tickets are available at (303) 772-5200 and www.longmonttheatre.org.