‘Toxic Avenger’ Reincarnates
Hazardous slime, bully-cum-superhero, rock musical – that’s the stuff taking over
Manoa Valley Theatre in its 45th season opener, with Toxic Avenger. The musical adaptation of the 1984 film stays true to the storyline of a weakling who is transformed into a muscular hero, managing to find romance while dispensing with New Jersey’s trash, both political and environmental. Attending an early showing of the play was VIP guest Lloyd Kaufman (lloydkaufman.com), producer of the original film and co-founder of Troma Entertainment (troma.com), which released the film. He jotted down some thoughts to share with A&S:
What makes your film and the musical so popular?
The underdog is bullied but becomes a superhuman hero – a universal theme for all ages. The environmental theme is very contemporary. Toxie (or the Toxic Avenger, Troma’s mascot) has hilarity, and there’s the good versus evil theme. Many major talents were inspired by Toxie and other Troma films, including Quentin Tarantino and South Park guys Trey Parker and Matt Stone.
It’s great entertainment for all who enjoy thoughtful, funny material. By the way, Trey and Matt’s first movie is Troma’s Cannibal! The Musical. (Toxic Avenger) offshoots like the Toxie cartoons – Chuck Lorre who created Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men wrote the pilot – and Marvel comics have been great. Stan Lee (the celebrated comic book writer and Marvel helmsman) loves Toxie.
What’s new with you lately?
I recently directed Return to Nuke ‘Em High,Vol. 1 (remake of the 1986 Class of Nuke ‘Em High), which opens January 2014. We currently are completing filming on Return to Nuke ‘Em High Vol. 2, and writing The Toxic Avenger Part 5: Grime and Punishment.
A big budget mainstream remake of Toxic Avenger is in the works, to be produced by Oscar winner Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind), and screenplay and direction by Steven Pink (Hot Tub Time Machine, High Fidelity).
What did you think of Manoa Valley Theatre’s production?
The musical has “mainstreamed” Toxie so everybody loves it. Manoa Valley Theatre has produced a musical that is as much fun as Book of Mormon (the musical). The musical has brilliant songs by Bon Jovi’s David Bryan that audiences love. Bryan and Joe DiPietro (playwright) won a Tony for Memphis and Best Off-Broadway for Toxie (along with many additional accolades) in the same year (2010).
Manoa Valley Theatre ingeniously has made the show true to the original Tromaville movie, but has moved it up a level so that all audiences from Troma fans to senior citizens enjoy it. Also, the intimacy of Manoa Valley Theatre creates the perfect Tromanoa Valley venue!
Thanks sooo much for your TOXERRRIFFFIC interest in Toxie!
the TICKET stub
When: Through Sept. 29
Where: Manoa Valley Theatre
More Info: 988-6131, manoavalleytheatre.com
‘Les Miz’ Boasts Sparkling Cast
You either loved it or hated it. There wasn’t much of an in-between response when Les Miserables arrived at movie theaters last December. Well, now the stage
show is coming to town (Sept. 20-Oct. 20, 235-7310) and there’s everything to love about the ambitious production and its star-studded cast – and this cast can really sing!
Kip Wilborn, who generally graces the opera stage in Vienna this time of the year, currently is residing in Honolulu while taking some time off. Paliku Theatre snapped him up in the starring role as down-on-his-luck protagonist Jean Valjean. Though a true opera man, Wilborn is no stranger to musical theater, having invested about five years doing musical theater in the middle of his opera career. However, Les Miz is a first for him.
Alongside Wilborn is fellow opera star, Hawaii’s own Buz Tennent as Javert, in dogged pursuit of Valjean. The two first worked together in the HOT production of Madame Butterfly in 2007. Adding to the cast, fresh off his stint in the touring show of Wicked, which recently came through Honolulu, is Broadway performer Cliffton Hall. Hall launched into his career after appearing in one of Ron Bright’s shows at Castle High School. Bright is again directing Hall as he reprises a role he has played on Broadway, as passionate revolutionary Marius, alongside some of the same classmates he was last onstage with 20 years ago.
“Mr. B (the renowned Mr. Bright) said we’re so far ahead of any show he’s ever done at this point in the process, so we’re doing a lot of refining,” notes Wilborn. “This is a large production as far as set pieces go, so there’s a huge amount of choreography.”
It’s not just that Les Miz is such a good show that the crème de la crème of theater are flocking to it, says Wilborn. “Les Miz is an extraordinary piece, and many performers will say it’s their favorite musical. It goes to the brilliant writing of (Alain) Boublil and (Claude-Michel) Schönberg (the respective lyricist and music composer), and also the storyline – the story of redemption and grace, of the rewards of doing the right thing when it costs you. That, and Ron Bright is a legend here.”
Paliku’s Les Miz promises to be at least as good as any major touring show that has come to Hawaii, says Wilborn.
“It’s an extraordinary piece,” he adds. “All I can say is bring your Kleenex!”
Note: Tickets were sold out as of this printing, with extension dates in the works.