One of the joys of Edinburgh Fringe is seeing small scale productions in venues that vary from reasonably sized to cramped. Another joy is getting to see a West End Musical performed with all the production value that goes with it, in the same day you saw a one man play on a double decker bus. The Toxic Avenger The Musical can call itself a West End Musical because, after a sell-out run at The Southwark Playhouse it will open at The Arts Theatre in London (via an Edinburgh University lecture hall).
Written by Joe DiPietro and David Bryan and based on Lloyd Kaufman’s cult 1984 movie, this is a comedy musical which delights audiences from the opening number. Tromaville needs a hero, the New Jersey city is drowning in chemical waste and the corrupt Mayor is profiting from the pollution. Nerd, Melvin Ferd the Third uncovers her deceit and sets out to expose her, but before he can, he is thrown into a vat of toxic waste. Luckily for his love interest, blind librarian Sarah, he doesn’t die, but is transformed in to a mutant superhero, Toxie.
Director, Benji Sperring has done a magnificent job on the production, for Edinburgh it looks much bigger and bolder than any other musical in the Fringe line up.
The only original cast member returning from the Southwark Playhouse production is Mark Anderson as Melvn/Toxie and to be honest I’m not sure it could work without him. He is every bit The Toxic Avenger, perfectly capturing the nerdy Melvin before taking on the might of Toxie, with just the right mix of gruesome monster and vulnerability, he may look like a mutant (thanks to the make-up) but he sings like an angel.
Joining the cast, Emma Salvo has a superb singing voice, and makes the character of Sarah her own. Natalie Hope is exceptional as The Mayor, bringing boundless energy to the role. Oscar Conlon-Morrey and Che Francis, play more characters than you can count, dashing off stage in one outfit and retuning seconds later in another. These guys certainly work hard and may be credited as ‘White Dude’ and ‘Black Dude’ but are most certainly the stars of the show.
The score is sensational with plenty of big bang numbers such as “Who Will Save New Jersey” and “My Big French Boyfriend”, of course, there is a comedy element to most, if not all of them and no more so than “Bitch/Slut/Liar/Whore”
The Toxic Avenger The Musical will have you crying with laughter and begging for more. It’s had a nuclear reaction at The Edinburgh Fringe and is sure to have a similar response from audiences when it opens in the West End.