Imagine your home town, our town, overwhelmed by muck and filth, vile slime and bubbling green toxic waste overflowing from large metal barrels stacked everywhere.
Alas, this is the normal environment for the unfortunate citizens of Tromaville, N.J., whose growing toxic waste dump is a repository for every undesirable substance generated by nearby New York City. And then imagine that this oozing status quo had all been arranged by the mayor in her quest to become governor.
“The Toxic Avenger,” a monster musical comedy hit off-Broadway, now playing through March 13 at Horizon Theatre in Little Five Points, opens with the citizens’ cry for help as they sing “Who Will Save New Jersey?”
Horizon Theatre’s production is a toe-tapping toxic delight, and it may also be valid in a land where politicians try to convince the gullible that environmental threats are just a hoax. See “The Toxic Avenger” as quickly as you can and judge for yourself.
Perhaps most importantly, be prepared to laugh.
Here’s the story:
A nerdy earth scientist named Melvin Ferd the Third (Nick Arapoglou) has vowed to clean up the environment. In his search for facts he visits Tromaville Library’s beautiful blind librarian Sarah (Julissa Sabino), with whom he is smitten, and informs her of his goal to put a stop to those responsible for the toxic mess their town is in.
Sarah is charmed by his determination but not attracted after feeling his face. Nonetheless she points him to the town records, which reveal the villainy of their mayor.
At city hall, Mayor Babs Belgoody (Leslie Bellair) sings of her goal to become governor (“Jersey Girl”), but, confronted with Melvin’s evidence, promises to make him her deputy. Once he leaves she orders her two goons, Sluggo and Bozo (played by Austin Tijerna and Michael Stiggers, who later play several other roles in this ensemble production) to, as they sing it, “Get the Geek.”
The goons toss Melvin into a vat of toxic waste, leaving him for dead, and then turn their attention to harassing poor blind Sarah on her way home.
On this note, with a great roar, from the vat of foul muck emerges The Toxic Avenger, a large green mutant with a deformed, slime-covered face and a superhuman body, singing “Kick Your Ass” as he tears the goons limb from limb and carries Sarah home.
When she awakens, he confesses he is toxic, which she assumes is a French name, nicknames him Toxie, and sings to her girlfriends (Tijerna and Stiggers again) of “My Big French Boyfrend.”
Back home, Toxie seeks medical help from Professor Ken who reveals the only cure is household bleach.
Toxie visits Sarah and tells her of his mission to remove all toxic waste from Tromaville. He rebuffs her attempted seduction as the two voice their feelings in “Hot Toxic Love.”
As the mayor supervises a new shipment of toxic waste, Toxie foils her and reveals he is actually Melvin, whom she vows to destroy. Once learning about the bleach she rallies the citizens into a lynch mob.
In the ensuing fracas, Sarah manages to shoot the mayor but not before she douses Toxie with bleach, whose only antidote is the most disgusting liquid on earth, a glass of water from the Hudson River. Toxie comes to and vows to end global warming.
A year later on election night we see Governor Toxie Ferd, his wife Sarah and their blind green baby Toxie Jr. as all sing “A Brand New Day in New Jersey.”
Horizon’s “The Toxic Avenger” is sure to inspire not only uninhibited laughter but also a brand new determination to clean up the world around you.
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William Hedgepeth is a veteran journalist, former senior editor of LOOK magazine and author of the national best-selling cult classic, “The Hog Book.”