I refuse to get sucked into another TV singing competition like American Idol. And thanks to Miss Sexy Armpit I don’t have to because I rely on her to tell me all about Idol, The Voice, and X-Factor. Out of all of them I like X-Factor the best, but mainly because that’s where Simon Cowell is. Without his cutting remarks, why watch any of these shows? Well, occasionally there’s contestants from Jersey who are often pretty damn good. A singer/songwriter who already had a low key, yet decent little career going for herself is Charlotte Sometimes. She grew up in Wall Township, New Jersey and is now appearing on NBC’s The Voice and is being mentored by Blake Shelton. Above is the video for her song “How I Could Just Kill A Man.” Unfortunately it’s not a Cypress Hill cover, but pretty damn catchy in it’s own right.
Reality shows bothered me since the first ever Real World on MTV aired in 1992. I’ll admit that I was into the first few seasons of American Idol, but then I dropped off like an Acme anvil over a cartoon cliff. Reality shows killed sitcoms and that is why I will forever hate them. “Give me Webster, or give me Death!” – Me.
My built in hatred of reality shows had me disgusted as soon as I heard that Simon Cowell was bringing The X-Factor to the U.S. There’s no need for another televised singing competition. Think about it, when did you watch Star Search? I remember flicking channels and seeing it when nothing else was on and I was bored out of my skull. Usually it aired at some weird time, like 1:00 PM on a Sunday. Nope, not X-Factor. I’m sure it will be front and center in Fox’s fall lineup.
The Sexy Armpit attended The X-Factor auditions held last night at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. After waiting outside for an hour in 95 degree heat on a line nearly as long as one for a Justin Bieber kissing booth, we were finally let into the building. From there we were told to choose our own seats, a task that could’ve turned into mass chaos, but went surprisingly smooth.
The M.C, who happened to be a Jersey guy, went through his shtick and told us NOT to BOO the singers. WHAT? Isn’t that what we all do at home when watching these lame shows? If we don’t like someone we should be able to communicate that. I hear the Idol audience booing all the time. Aw, how sweet, The X-Factor is being all tender and compassionate. Simon Cowell is running the damn show! Simon, you better not have instituted this stupid no Booing policy.
The judges, Simon, Paula, Nicole Scherzinger, and L.A Reid, all walked out to their table in a swirl of lights and maniacal applause to Guns N Roses “Live and Let Die.” Simon wasn’t nearly as entertaining as he was on Idol, hopefully it’s because it was merely the audition phase. Paula’s responses were still all over the place, but more constructive. Nicole sounded like she was stoned out of her mind on crystal meth. Everything she said sounded like she was on a higher plane of existence. Maybe she was nervous since it was her first time judging on the show. L.A Reid was actually the best part because he cut to the chase. He’s an icon of the music business and someone who can provide an expert perspective to the singers.
Did they find any talent in Newark, NJ? Hell yeah they did! Some of the singers actually thrilled the audience to the point of standing ovations. One Brooklyn woman resurrected Billy Vera’s “At This Moment,” and blew the roof off the Pru Center. Needless to say, she made it through as did many other superb singers, many of whom hailed from The Garden State. But don’t you worry, there were enough laughable performances to drop into those promos that will suck you into watching the show.
Even though her face looks like she’s trying to force out a really pesky dump whenever she sings, Glee‘s Lea Michele is May’s Garden State Playmate. She’s not full fledged Jersey though, she was born in The Bronx but grew up in Tenafly, New Jersey. Previous to scoring big with her role as high school singer Rachel Berry, Lea Michele was a promising young stage actress (showing your boobs really displays your acting chops), starring in productions of Spring Awakening and Les Miserables.
Since debuting last year, it didn’t take long for Glee and it’s stars to skyrocket to fame. I admit watching the original preview of the show in Hulu but I couldn’t get through the first 10 minutes. It seems like the country is obsessed with hearing people perform music that isn’t theirs. It’s like everyone has the Karaoke virus. I blame American Idol. Hearing the cast sing Madonna and Lady Gaga songs doesn’t impress me. OK, so I’m a party pooper, but sue me if I’d rather pop in my ear buds and listen to the REAL songs.
And for the record, in the world of The Sexy Armpit, “Gleek” can only describe a rambunctious blue monkey who hangs out with The Wonder Twins, but now, crazed fans of the hit Fox TV show are also calling themselves Gleeks. Zan and Jayna need to call their lawyer!
Among the several Tony nominations for Broadway’s Rock of Ages, Wyckoff, NJ (home of the Jonas Brothers) native and Ramapo High School alum Constantine Maroulis is nominated for Best Performance by a Lead Actor in a Musical! Good Luck to ROA! Tune in tonight (8 PM Eastern on CBS hosted by Neil Patrick Harris) to see if it wins and check out a performance by its cast members and Poison!
On Wednesday December 3rd, 2008 I drove into lower Manhattan, to review Mindgame, a play billed as a “comic psycho thriller” at the Soho Playhouse. When I see a play or movie I try to refrain from doing too much research prior to my experience in order to go into it without any preconceived notions. I won’t spoil too much and if by the end of reading this you decide to check out the play for yourself, I suggest going in with an open mind.
Mindgame is no mere mortal of a play, and while immersing yourself in it you’ll feel like you’re stomping up and down the stairs of MC Escher’s painting Relativity, never really reaching a destination. Although, those who persevere through this rich Mindgame will feel rewarded. You’ll be left with a lingering fallout of thoughts, possible conclusions, and a multitude of unanswered questions. If you don’t consider that a reward, then you should think of going to see Shrek the Musical instead.
In the lore of the play, best selling writer Mark Styler has come to a mental hospital in hopes of interviewing Eastman, a serial killer. Styler’s book Bloodbath chronicled the exploits of 9 notorious serial killers, but an interview with Eastman eluded him. Styler first has to meet with Dr. Farquhar, the head of the hospital, in order to get clearance to meet with Eastman. The enigmatic and seemingly dignified Farquhar is not aware of who Styler is, nor is he familiar with his apparent written request to interview one of his patients. The play’s comic tone grows eerie as the quest to figure out exactly what the hell is going on begins. Farquhar calls for his assistant, Nurse Plimpton, a couple of times until she finally arrives. In what seems like an outlandish ornament to the play in her pink wig, white vinyl nurses costume, fishnet stockings, and silver hooker boots, the sexy nurse isn’t just eye candy as you’ll find out. The nurse is noticeably uneasy judging by her uncomfortable chuckles that follow her dialogue.
In the events that follow, a scalpel, a vintage 1966 bottle of wine, a shopping bag from Marks and Spencer, and a straight jacket all come into play. You may have to call upon your days as household champion of Clue to sift through the conundrums that makeup Mindgame. In this case though, you can’t be sure Colonel Mustard is actually Colonel Mustard and you most definitely will not be able to rely on the old standby and blame the butler “Didit.” When we reach what seems to be a turning point in the play, there’s a revelation about one of the characters. At that moment it occurred to me that I may not have been mentally raising the right questions. I had to fine tune my thinking. After more revelations occur, it’s not obvious which one we’re supposed to believe. The play’s finale is left open to interpretation, and for that reason Mindgame is the epitome of clever and thought provoking.
Coming from a former English major, I’d say Mindgame is quite a juicy subject from a literary standpoint. I did not read the novel by Anthony Horowitz, but solely based on what I saw in the play, there’s a profuse amount of themes imbedded in it’s layers. So exactly how many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of mind game? Chances are, the center will probably turn hard as a rock before you can even crack the candy coating. Don’t bite it and walk away or you’ll miss out on fully enjoying and appreciating the finer details. Here are just some of the themes of Mindgame: influence, identity, insanity, perversions, murder, contradictions, incest, homosexuality, liberation, psychoanalytic methods, cannibalism, BDSM, role reversal, deformity, self perception/public image, mind over matter, and the arousing nature and glorification of murderers like Jack the Ripper. Or it could be about none of those things. Confused?
It’s hard to believe that only 3 actors created Mindgame onstage. Keith Carradine (Will Rogers Follies, TV’s Deadwood and Dexter) seamlessly stepped into the shoes of the doctor of the mental hospital, Farquhar while Lee Godart (Skylight, Copenhagen, and TV’s All My Children) vivified Mark Styler, the writer. The pair exchanged lines with artful elegance. Both actors utilized their superb comic timing while occasionally the play’s unpredictable nature forced them to erupt into skillfully executed volatile rages. Upon her entrance, Nurse Plimpton was a welcome addition to the stage, and my nether region. The nuances of her performance are to be savored. Kathleeen McNenny has starred in Richard III for the NJ Shakespeare Festival, TV’s Law and Order, and the film School of Rock, as well as numerous other TV and stage productions. Without this incredibly adept cast, Mindgame wouldn’t have been nearly as enjoyable.
Ken Russell directs the fine cast through the taught script of Mind game. Russell states in the director’s note in the playbill: “By the end of Act I on my first reading of Mindgame, I was ready for a small scotch. By the time I reached the grand finale, I was in need of a large one.” No matter how bemused by the script, Russell’s inspiration shines through in this well conceived production. Helping the translation from script to stage was Beowulf Boritt who has designed yet another exceptional set. The stage was set as Farquhar’s office and it contains several props and decoys of varying importance. Be perceptive and especially take a glance over at that morphing painting on the wall!
You’ll find Mindgame to be funny and suspenseful, yet mind boggling. It’s not as simple as it first seems. The play relies on atmosphere and dialogue so don’t expect big huge ensemble dance numbers. If you’re not down with perverse subject matter, or some scalpel slashing then you may want to sit this one out. The material is a bit challenging for someone who’s not a theater goer, it can be repetitive at times. The methodical nature of the script may just get you frustrated. But if you’re “all in” then pay attention to the subtle details, you may or may not need them! Is this not making sense to you? Good, that’s the point! It’s refreshing to know that much passion went into the production of Mindgame and it’s not just some slapped together stage show starring some already forgotten American idol reject. Even though it’s more to digest than recycled clichéd fare, it’s an experience you’ll be talking about for a long time so allow yourself to be engaged in the Mindgame! Back to The age old question What does it all mean? Carpet. Envelope. Wallpaper. Cigarette. Jelly. Yeah…that’s it! Intrigued?
15 Vandam Street
BTW 6th Ave & Varick
Could it be possible? Does history really repeat itself? I never thought it could happen, but after the rollicking good time I had at ROCK OF AGES on Sunday October 26th at The New World Stages in New York City, I really think it does.
When I was a little kid, tearing through issues of Metal Edge and plastering my walls with posters of GNR, Skid Row, and Poison; I dreamed of the sinful aura of debauchery, sleaze, and mayhem that the L.A sunset strip rock scene evoked. Meanwhile, my sister, in her teens at that time, sang along to all the songs that old worn out VHS tape of Grease cranked out incessantly.
Even as a kid I knew better than to believe life actually resembled how it was depicted in Grease. Anyone who’s gone to high school knows, that compared to the film Grease, high school could be a nightmarish, bleak, and horrible place. To my surprise, I graduated high school without engaging in one group hand jive, without ever having been stranded at the drive in, and my old 4-cylinder ‘87 Chrysler LeBaron didn’t, by any means, drive like “Greased lightning.” Life’s never as “peachy keen” as it is in the movies or on stage for that matter. I never thought for a second that the explicit, raunchy rock scene that was my obsession would ever be “Grease-ified.” Grease was originally a stage musical and just as it pulled from late ‘50s high school nostalgia, Rock of Ages embodies the excess and broken dreams on the ‘80s Sunset Strip. I was petrified that the attempt of glamorizing my beloved hairband era would be catastrophic. Would the play condescend and poke fun at the age of lipstick, plastic, and paint? Could Grease’s cigarettes, cheerleaders, and black leather biker jackets be interchangeable with the ‘80s themes of drug abuse, aquanet, spandex? I would soon find out!
After I took my seat, I immediately basked in the authentic set design by Beowulf Boritt, who also worked on The Toxic Avenger Musical. The stage was created to look like the interior of the fictitious Bourbon Room, which is reminiscent of the Whiskey or the Rainbow in L.A. The walls of the theater were plastered with concert posters while billboards hung from high above. A Jack Daniels advertisement asks “I did what with my sister?” and another one points out, in case you haven’t heard, Arsenal’s new CD “I Want Your Cans” is in stores now.
Pink lights drenched the inside of the Bourbon room. Rock memorabilia adorned the walls. There was a Pink flying V, collages of rock stars, and framed pinups of Motley Crue, Guns and Roses, and Poison among others. The main focal point of the Bourbon Room was it’s small stage where a lot of bands began their rock dreams. (Stone Pony anyone?) Onstage there was a dingy bathroom that served as the butt of a few jokes, and center stage featured a revolving room that provided background for various scenes. Oh yeah, I know you’ll like this part…there was a stripper poll on each end of the stage. I know what you’re thinking, and the answer is YES! Did they get used? What kind of a question is that? A good question actually, because now’s a good time for me to mention that when I’m reincarnated in my next life, I’ve signed a definitive, definitely happening, contractually binding, legal document that professionally and law abidingly states that I will come back as one of the two brass stripper polls on the Rock of Ages stage. Triple Stamped. For the honor of Grayskull. And that’s the bottom line cause I just said so!
Right about now a message over the P.A system states there should be NO flash photography unless you’re willing to show your boobs! YEAH BABY! I won’t spoil too much for you, since the Rock of Ages marketing team utilized the “less is more” idea and it worked. All online and print ads tout the play’s great tunes. It seemed as if name dropping the bands was enough since the house was PACKED! The vague propaganda turned out to make the play an unexpected blast.
At the crux of the play there’s a love story between Drew (Constantine Maroulis) and Sherrie (Kelli Barrett). It’s the typical story of a couple of ‘80s L.A dream chasers who fall for each other. Boy works at a bar and hopes to make it big as a rock star. When boy gets noticed by a talent manager, he suggests that boy change his whole look and go on a “mall tour.” Girl dreams of being an actress but plans fizzle out and works as a waitress, then climbs ranks to become a stripper. Even though the story is simple and reminiscent of others you may have heard before, I dig the message of the play. Even if you don’t get exactly what you want on your quest, it doesn’t mean your dreams are necessarily broken, you may just find that you have better dreams.
When we’re off cloud 9 with the two lovebirds, the city government is attempting to clean up the Sunset Strip and make it more family friendly. One of the establishments that would be effected is the Bourbon Room, so it’s manager Dennis, (the skilled Adam Dannheisser) does his best to stop this insanity. Like the good natured hippie he is, he doesn’t want his bar to close or his staff to be out of jobs. Dennis comes up with the idea to call in a favor from Stacee Jaxx, a Steel Pantheresque lead singer of a wildly popular band called Arsenal. (CD just dropped) I laughed deliriously at Will Swenson’s flashy performance which reminds us of how pompous, arrogant, and egotistical many of the great ’80s hair band frontmen were. Other superior performances include the refreshing Kelli Barrett as Sherrie, the over the top hysterical Mitchell Jarvis as Lonny the narrator, and Wesley Taylor as the gay German (ok so he’s not gay just German.)
The ensemble cast featured some hot dancers who weren’t afraid to show some butt cheeks and rock skimpy lingerie. Don’t be a prude, that’s how it was in the ‘80s! The ‘80s hair band era was instrumental in providing me with a template of the ideal woman. White leather jacket, short skirt, crimped hair, high heel boots, and stockings, don’t you remember? Duh. Rock of Ages featured an immensely talented actress, dancer, and singer Angel Reed. I definitely had a crush on her like a little kid watching Dial MTV during the hair band days and seeing that girl with the white leather jacket on. Or maybe it was Club MTV, it escapes me. Either way, she was hot, and she has her own exotic dance DVD that all you women should pick up and let her teach you how to dance for your man. While you’re at it check out all of Angel’s other projects like her music and modeling gallery! You really need to experience Rock of Ages just to watch some of Angel’s moves with the aforementioned poll that I will become in my next life. Yay! I never thought I’d say it, but I can’t wait to die!
I didn’t go into the play with too many expectations since I managed to avoid reading reviews of the show. Although I could imagine what’s being said, since for the past several years it seems like shitting on ‘80s bands is the trendy thing to do. But now is the time that the up and coming bands are citing bands like Guns, Motley, and Poison as major influences. (rightfully so!) It’s time that this era got some credit! If it becomes known for anything, Rock of Ages, pays tribute to the ‘80s rock era in a monumental way. The classic songs that help the play rumble on become even more transcendent. (u shut up now)
Bo Bice sucks and Constantine should’ve been runner up on Idol in ’05. Some of the notes he hit in Rock of Ages almost exploded the Bourbon Room, which would’ve sucked cause he was trying to help save it! His mastery of this style of rock truly wins the audience’s approval as his character Drew shows off his rock chops.
In Rock of Ages some of the songs you hear are taken right from the hair band era, while others are simply pop rock, but all of them work into the show’s plot. Songs from the following artists are featured in the play: Asia, Bon Jovi, David Lee Roth, Poison, Extreme, Mr. Big, Night Ranger, Quiet Riot, Twisted Sister, Warrant, Whitesnake, Foreigner, Journey, REO Speedwagon, Styx, Steve Perry, Pat Benatar, Quarterflash, and even Survivor!
Even though the music gives the show its gusto, it’s actually responsible for my only complaint. The musical is made up of storm trooping assembly of songs that only a late night CD box set infomercial with Bret Michaels could envy. The massive list of songs are finely weaved into the plot like the hairs on Bret Michaels head. Some of my favorite rock classics are featured in the show, so what’s the problem here, Jay? Some of the songs seem to be overused. I heard enough of Warrant’s “Heaven” when I sang along with it daily back in ’89. (By the way people get with the program! Jani Lane is OUT of Warrant again! That news didn’t interrupt your local affiliates broadcast of the last presidential debate? That’s weird because on my TV Riki Rachtman broke in just before McCain said “Joe the Plumber” for the 68th time and broke the news) Twisted Sister’s “I Wanna Rock,” and a few others seemed to be utilized several times at points when an original riff would feel more natural. Rock of Ages might benefit from sprinkling in a few original tunes in between the massively popular ones. How about an original Arsenel song? Arsenal, for those who don’t know, are the ‘80s rock band that is asked (blackmailed) to play at the Bourbon room to save the bar. (CD in stores now)
I’m a sucker for a T-Shirt, especially those emblazoned with a logo for a fictitious band. If the band happened to be from Jersey then I might just spontaneously combust. Whenever I go to a show or concert I look for that specific T-shirt that jumps out at me literally, and seduces me with a one liner like: “I wanna be on you…” After the show I strolled by the schwag station and almost yelped like a fat girl who can’t keep a secret and got a hand over her mouth. I then blacked out for a moment and came to. In my hands was a sparkling, magical, authentic ARSENAL concert T-shirt. Of course, the logo rips off Anthrax and Metallica but c’mon, what do you expect from a fictitious band! It was brought to my attention that if I looked at the back of the shirt, all the stops listed for their Cocked and Loaded tour are in New Jersey towns!
How RAD is that? And I don’t mean that in the Rock Against Drugs type of way. (That line I just ripped off was courtesy of Drew, Constantine’s character) Is Arsenal supposed to be from New Jersey? Perhaps that’s why Stacee Jaxx, while adorned in white spandex, unleashes a perverted, priceless rendition of Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive”? I’ll take it!
After you check out Rock of Ages, you’ll be thanking me. You too will come to appreciate the many facets of “Rusty Trombonering,” Warrant’s “Heaven,” and the atmospheric appeal of the Fogmaster 5000. Your arms will be super strong after holding up that keychain flashlight in place of a lighter during ballads. Oh, and you’ll also be thanking me because you scored points with your girlfriend. Theater tickets are a better gift idea than the run of the mill stuff, so buy her a pair of tickets for the holidays! For you ladies out there, your boyfriend will be elated that he can bring beers and adult beverages into the theater. That satisfies the alcohol lovers and those yearning for a true ‘80s sunset strip vibe.
Writer Chris D’Arienzo, Director Kristin Hanggi, and Choreogrpaher Kelly Devine are responsible for making Rock of Ages a play that feels like the kind of movie you watch a million times and remember all the dialouge. Keep in mind that you can only own a DVD for several generations, Rock of Ages the musical is off-Broadway NOW, so don’t miss out! Oh and some advice from Lonny the narrator: before you head to the show, if you’d like to make your experience more authentic you may want to set yourself up with an eight ball of crystal meth and get a sixer of Diet Shasta. Dude, it’s amazing.
DANGER: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS HAZARDOUS CHEMICALS!
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J – A musical version of Troma’s classic cult film The Toxic Avenger made it’s debut at the George Street Playhouse on Friday night October 10th 2008, and The Sexy Armpit crashed the premiere party. OK, so we didn’t crash, they actually let us come. I’ve never seen a play on the George Street stage, but as I crossed the street and saw flood lights and a huge Toxie billboard, I knew they were providing a fitting reception for Troma’s first son Toxie. My imagination was sparked before I even made my way into the building. Instead of a red carpet, a black carpet covered the ground and stairs leading up to the entrance. The carpet was splattered with bright green “sludge” and boot prints as if Toxie walked into the playhouse just before I did. It’s the cool little details that impress me.
After having a wacky conversation with creator and director of Troma films, Lloyd Kaufman, my colleague Big Sal (formerly of ECW) and I got our tickets ripped, sat our asses down, and then just let the anticipation and excitement fester until showtime. Apprehension came over me as I worried how a musical version of the cult classic The Toxic Avenger would turn out. Was there a need for a Toxic Avenger musical? Hell yes! Toxic Avenger is a well known character but mostly with fan boys and the cult film obsessed folks. Toxie is finally getting his due.
“This is disturbing…”
“This is disturbing…”
“This is disturbing…”
“This is disturbing,” an older woman sitting behind me whispered at least four times. She felt the need to announce her declaration to the people on her left and right. The play was only a few minutes underway and I felt like showing her what was disturbing! I suppose she had no clue what kind of images were in store for her as the tale of Toxie unfolded. Was she at all familiar with the first superhero from New Jersey? Would she be even more appalled when she realized that people would be maimed and beaten with their own limbs on stage? Would she be aghast at the blind jokes? Had she ever lived a moment of her stuffy life as an outcast? Could she related to Melvin Ferd the 3rd’s feelings of rejection? I would soon find out. Although, I can bet that this minuscule piece of glowing, radioactive pop culture has no place in her hoity-toity lifestyle. Toxie was made for us, not them!
The George Street Playhouse, thanks to it’s stadium style seating, enables everyone in the house to enjoy an unobstructed view of the stage. The set, designed by Beowulf Boritt, was adorned with vats of fuming toxic chemicals and an old beat up turnpike sign. The sign warned the audience they were no longer in New Brunswick, but Exit 13, Tromaville. The set atmosphere made me feel like I was in a comic book and it was the perfect combination of gross and eerie. Thankfully the show did not rely on over the top special effects, but there were plenty of sight gags, costume changes, and a revolving set piece in the middle of the stage that helped suspend our disbelief. My attention was fixed on the infinitely talented actors who dazzled the stage. The full band was ready to rock as the actors seized the spotlight.
A guy coughs from the awful fumes rising from the NJ turnpike while a nun prays “Who will save New Jersey?” From the looks of it, we actually do need a savior! The once beautiful Tromaville is being polluted by New York City and the corrupt mayor is to blame. Meanwhile the geeky Melvin Ferd the 3rd is in love with a cute blonde and blind librarian named Sara. Melvin stumbles upon the Mayor’s plans that could further ruin the environment and the Mayor’s career if they were released. The Mayor instructs her thugs to “get the geek,” but it backfires after they drop him into a vat of toxic chemicals. Melvin emerges deformed and oozing with toxic neon green sludge. Makes you want to think twice about moving to Jersey, huh? Hence, New Jersey’s first superhero is born, The Toxic Avenger! Toxie plans on dethroning the corrupt Mayor and eliminating pollution from the Garden State. Minor details of the original film were altered in order to modernize the story. Although, If you’re a hardcore Toxie fan, don’t worry you won’t be disappointed! Live theater is usually the perfect venue to see some stellar performances but on this night, there was an air of magic. It was obvious that the players were enthusiastic about there roles and there were no “I can’t believe I’m doing this” attitudes.
Deformed and doused in sludge, was Nick Cordero as he bravely took on the main role of the geeky Melvin Ferd the Third and the legendary superhuman Toxic Avenger. The Mayor of Tromaville proclaims him a terrorist, even though he’s trying to rid New Jersey of it’s toxic waste. Cordero’s performance as Toxie at times recalled the despondence of the Phantom in Phantom of the Opera as well as the zealous and fiery performance of Sebastian Bach several years ago in Broadway’s Jekyll & Hyde. The operatic rock songs flourished thanks to Cordero’s rousing, dynamic voice. Toxie even made his way into the audience during “Everybody Dies.” I thought the lady behind me would have a coronary.
Nancy Opel’s (Urinetown) performance is truly dazzling as she takes on double duty playing Melvin’s mother as well as the Mayor of Tromaville. As Melvin’s mother she’s noticeably disgusted at how he can never get anything right. Even when her son becomes a toxic monster she wonders “Could you at least put your left eyeball where it’s supposed to be?” It was apparent that Opel sunk her teeth into this role especially during a fun and frantic scene where Toxie’s mom and the Mayor have a run in (It‘s impossible!). It’s a scene right out of a Three’s Company episode. There were plenty of winks at the audience like the moment where the Mayor’s searching for Melvin and claims “I’ll find him, I know his mother.” Watch out for Opel and Demond Green’s steamy performance of “Evil is Hot,” it was so freakin’ hot!
Certain actors are born performers while others hone their skills, and chip away in a never-ending attempt to be great. Audra Blaser (Bandidas) is a born performer. Her portrayal of the innocent, blind librarian Sara, love interest of Toxie, proved to be a highlight of the play. How can that snooty lady behind me get offended at blind jokes when such an adorable, and refreshing actress is the butt of them? I was surprised by Blaser’s knack for comedy which obviously didn’t pass by the casting director’s radar either. Not only is Sara funny but also compassionate as she wonders why Toxie isn‘t mauling her: “If you’re gay, we can still be best friends and watch American Idol together.” I’m glad the casting folks stayed true to the original characters. Blaser showed no signs of worry, although she had some pretty big shoes to fill since the role of Sara previously belonged to some of the quirkiest, and offbeat actresses including Andree Maranda, Phoebe Legere, and Heidi Sjursen. The dreamy Blase was joined by Demond Green and David Josefsberg during the song “My Big French Boyfriend” which was possibly the funniest moment in entire the show.
The sentence “As black dude and white dude, Demond Green and David Josefsberg are quite versatile actors” holds the record for BIGGEST understatement of all time. I don’t think I can count how many different characters these two guys appeared as. Whether they were guys, girls, thugs, Springsteen wannabes, or hairdressers, they were thoroughly entertaining and proved to be an immense force of comic relief.
Having two famous Jersey guys on the writing staff didn’t hurt a bit. Joe DiPietro (I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change) wrote the book and lyrics while David Bryan (keyboardist of Bon Jovi) wrote music and lyrics to this rocking musical. The ingenious songs proved to be the productions’ throbbing, slimy nucleus. You’ll only need to experience the show once and you’ll realize they’re just as memorable and catchy as songs from the soundtracks of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Little Shop of Horrors. I want the songs on my iPod already! I’ve probably been to almost 50 live theater performances in my life and the minority of them featured songs that I would actually think of listening to elsewhere. This exuberant soundtrack has joined the minority!
Toxic Avenger the Musical was directed by Tony Award winning director John Rando (Urinetown). Props (no pun intended) to another Jersey native John Dods for creating superb special effects and prosthetics. Dods has worked on some of my favorite films and TV shows including Monsters ‘88-‘91, Ghostbusters II, and Black Roses!
The spirit of Lloyd Kaufman’s film making style was ever present. Judging by this show, you don’t need a cast of hundreds to put on a successful and entertaining production. Perhaps other productions can take a lesson from The Toxic Avenger (or they should read Lloyd Kauffman’s book All I Need to Know About Filmmaking I Learned from the Toxic Avenger). In this case, improvising is the catalyst for some of the musical’s best moments. For the true Toxie fans, you’ll see nods to the original series like when Toxie slam dunks some thugs severed head. In another signature Toxie move, he pulls open his pants to check out how the size of his manhood mushroomed! I’m sure Sara will be pleased!
The Toxic Avenger musical completely squashed my apprehensions with it’s outlandish fun. In classic New Jersey fashion, the audience gave a raucous standing ovation while clapping and rocking out. Expect your cheeks to hurt from laughing and your eyes to be glued to the stage. At the end of the show, for the first time in my life I wanted to be doused in some of that hazardous neon green ooze emitting from the marshes of Exit 13. Oh, and if you’re at all like that woman sitting behind me, then stay home and watch Masterpiece Theater or I may toss your big old pretentious ass into a bubbling vat of toxic sludge!
Photos displayed above from The Toxic Avenger Musical by David Saint and T.Charles Erickson.
Now here’s some photos from the Premiere Party!
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is supposed to feature Prince this year. Is this ok with everyone? I’m sure not all of you are as big a Prince fan as I am but don’t you think this is a bit odd? After he performed on American Idol last season I thought it was just a cool thing he did. Prince knocked Idol saying he hated the show and had no intention of ever being on it. Then he shows up at the last minute, performs his latest single and gets the hell off the show.
Perhaps Prince is “Jumping the Turkey” instead of the shark. Will Prince be performing on a float with a bunch of dancers dressed as Purple Pilgrims? I’m not sure that “Black Sweat” his latest track is made for the Thanksgiving morning tradition. Prince might wind up actually fucking a Turkey on the float. I’m interested in watching this because his appearance seems kinda weird unless he performs a remake of the Golden Girls theme song. We’ll see what happens in just a few short days. Typically I get bored out of my mind watching all the silly bands and other nonsense that doesn’t hold my attention. Just bring out Santa already!
I think this year they should have a float of Satan’s Little Helper and an actual Root Beer Float sponsored by A & W. That would kick ass. It could be interactive if you are lined up on the street because then it would spray random squirts of Root Beer at everyone. Once again, that’s kickass.