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Review: THE TOXIC AVENGER at The Music Hall on Danforth

Toronto has a new hit show and hopefully a new Halloween Tradition with The Toxic Avenger. This madcap musical openEd Halloween night at The Music Hall on Danforth to an ecstatic audience reaction. A small show with a cast of five, it morphs into a giant cartoon of a musical that has the audience in stitches.

The plot is a riff on both horror movies superhero geeks. When milquetoast Melvin Ferd the third is beaten up by bullies and bumped in vat of toxic slime he mutates into the hideous but all powerful Toxic Avenger out to save this New Jersey town from the evil machinations of the town’s corrupt mayor.

Louise Pitre gives a hilariously campy performance as both the evil Mayoress and Melvin’s mother. What happens when the two characters meet and square off? It’s a gag-filled number called “Bitch!  Slut! Liar!Whore!” that has to be seen to be believed. We always knew Pitre was a fantastic singer. We always knew she was a gifted actress. Now she can add camp icon to her list of achievements.  

Joining her is newcomer EVan Alexander Smith giving a career-making performance as Melvin/Toxie. He has a sensational voice coupled with an impressive stage presence, and infuses every scene with energy. He also plays the most bizarre scenes with total conviction without ever mocking the material.

As Toxie’s love interest, Brittany Gray has a field day as Sarah the blonde, blind librarian whose empty-headed responses become ridiculously funny thanks to her deadpan delivery.

Credit director John Rando for re-creating the New York staging. The Music Hall is more than twIce The size of the intimate off-Broadway house where TOXIC plays in New York. He gives the show a big feel with some appropriately over-the-top performances that carry the show’s broad humour to the very last rows.

Mark Camilleri’s four-piece band can certainly be heard everywhere, though in some of the faster sequences the band and lyrics fight it out to a draw, but in the end when Evan sings, Toxie wins.

Those who loved EVIL DEAD – The Musical will go nuts for The Toxic Avenger, which has much better production values. Show will also have instant appeal for fans of superhero comics, horror movie spoofs, and rock musicals. The show is very funny, energetically performed and best of all never takes itself too seriously.

The Toxic Avenger is playing at The Music Hall, 147 Danforth, until January 3. Tickets range from $15 to $41.50 and can be ordered online at www.toxicavengertoronto.com or by calling 416-644-3665.




From This Author - Mark Andrew Lawrence