• Carl Llabres and Cathy H. Burroughs

AQ Arts - The Toxic Avenger!

Atlanta's noted Horizon Theatre Company launches its 2016 season with the outrageous humdinger of a rock musical The Toxic Avenger playing through March 13th that is not to be missed. A tale of hot toxic love, the show creates its own hilarious world (somewhere in New Jersey) of evolutionary divergent, mutagenic, glow in the dark comedy. Perhaps not suitable for children but teenagers and everyone else will adore this edgy and uproarious musical with its five virtuosic singing, dancing, acrobatic actors that play multiple characters (sometimes at the same time) that run the gamut of sexuality and gender. For tickets call the Box Office at (404) 584-7450 or go to Everyone bar none in the cast and orchestra are extraordinary and the night we were there the part of Sarah was played by a last minute understudy Rose Alexander who did an incredible job. We never would have known she was an understudy but we'd also love to see Julissa Sabino play the role of the sultry and beautiful blind librarian who is our hero the mutant's true love interest.

It is easy to see why this show won Outer Critic's Circle Award for Best Off-Broadway Musical. The Toxic Avenger, written by the dynamic duo who gave us the musical Memphis, is an uproarious wild ride of irreverent social satire based on Lloyd Kaufman's cult classic of the same name. Brilliantly directed by both Heidi McKerley and Music Director S. Renée Clark, this may be one of Horizon's finest hours and that's saying a whole helluva lot.

Spoiler Alert for the remainder: Toxic Avenger with it extraordinary cast tells the story of Melvin Ferd, the Third (Nick Arapoglou), both nerd and later hulkish as our hero the buff monster/sociopath who is in love with Sarah ( aforementioned understudy par excellance Rose Alexander), a blind, naive yet sexually excitable blind librarian badly keeping environmental safety violation secrets from the scheming, male package grabbing, twerking, manipulative, corrupt political ruler of Tromaville, New Jersey, Mayor Babs. Played by Leslie Bellair as a dual character Bitch Slap Fest that threatens to steal a virtually unstealable show), Bellair is almost a virtual freak of nature in this show she is so darn amazing as the town's corrupt despot and the hero's mother sometimes congruently. Her thugs: White Dude (Austin Tijerina) and Black Dude (Michael Stiggers) who play a slew of wild characters that sing, dance, shimmy down poles, jump off of ledges in a single bound and dance on six inch heels with so much adroitness that it boggles the mind dump our hero Melvin in toxic waste to silence him for trying to bring Bab's unlawful secrets to the authorities. The exposure to toxic waste sends a surviving Melvin into a chemical metamorphosis which turns him into "The Toxic Avenger", a green, slimy, foul smelling mutant with a left eye hanging out of his sockets but with an overdeveloped six pack and super hero pecks to match which catapults Sarah the blind librarian into an electric guitar playing and rock opera worthy sexual awakening.

In addition to Nick Arapolgou and Rose Alexander's stellar performances and singing, the play gives the rest of the cast an equal opportunity to shine in juicy, masterfully-played, energetic multiple roles. Leslie Bellair rocks the house in a triple role as Ma Ferd, the evil Mayor and as an irreverent pole climbing Nun. Austin Tijerina shows off his comedic range in roles that vary from: a long haired folk singer, a New Jersey big haired working class girl, a corrupt policeman and an illiterate thug. Michael Stiggers also excels in roles that vary from a dancing mad scientist in lust with Babs, a Leopard print wearing, singing, big haired, sassy New Jersey girl named Shaniqua, a flamboyant Dominican hair dresser to a brutal murderous thug who ends up dismembered by the Toxic Avenger. All's well that ends well and despite our efforts to describe this wild theatrical ride, it absolutely must be seen to fully appreciate its sheer toxic genius!

The musical in addition of taking a hilarious punch at environmental issues, it also takes a comedic metaphoric punch at human nature without taking any sides on the gender wars. Leslie Bellair's characters sing a hilarious anti-feminist anthem: "Bitch, Liar, Whore" shaming manipulative females as a the result of a confrontation between Babs and Ma Ferd both played by Bellair. Men did not escape unscathed as Bellair, Tijerina and Stiggers render tribute to erratic masculine behavior in "All Men are Freaks". The song "Evil is Hot" also explores embracing the dark side of human nature. On the tender side, Sarah's girlfriends give her the advise that there is no such thing as perfection in romantic endeavors and encourage Sarah to go get her freak, her Toxic Avenger and embrace her imperfectly human mutant love. For an unforgettable night of evolutionary divergent, mutagenic, glow in the dark comedy, do not miss Horizon Theatre's Production of The Toxic Avenger running until March 13 in the heart of Little Five Points in Atlanta.


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