The Toxic Avenger

This weekend, Jen and I went to the Alley Theatre to check out the much celebrated Toxic Avenger musical. While that might sound strange or awesome to you depending on whatever whacky lens you use to view the world, rest assured — it was one of the greatest live performances of anything I’ve seen, ever.

For those unfamiliar with the tale of the Toxic Avenger, it’s a musical re-creation of the cult classic of the same name produced in 1985 by Troma Entertainment, purveyors of other iconic B productions such as Redneck Zombies and Cannibal! The Musical. The short of it is that a guy gets dumped into a vat of toxic waste and emerges as the Toxic Avenger, New Jersey’s eco-friendly superhero with a bit of a super violent streak. As you can imagine, seeing this campy story in musical form is an experience like no other. Add to that the fact that the music itself is excellent, and performed by some amazingly talented singers to boot.

The whole performance was aided by the fact that you could tell the entire cast (which comprised a total of 5 people playing all the roles) was absolutely loving every minute of it. They weren’t just doing their jobs — they were doing what they were born to do and having a blast. Every time I see that, whether it has to do with movies or music or whatever else, I can’t help but tear up a little bit. I guess that sounds weird, but it’s just true. I get misty-eyed when I see people experiencing that, because there’s just nothing else like it.

And the funny thing is, sometimes writers get the short end of that joyous celebration stick. As much as I love writing, there’s absolutely not a rockstar equivalent whatsoever. I know that’s kind of a vain thing to think about, and I’ll own that, I suppose. But writers don’t get to type in front of a screaming audience and then smash their keyboards over a set of speakers when they’re done. Nobody gives a standing ovation when you turn around a really terrible first draft or think of the right quirky turn of phrase for a seemingly innocuous event. I don’t think anybody in the world demands an encore of watching you stare at the blinking cursor or correcting every time you went with a terribly cliche piece of simile.

Not that I think about these things often. Clearly it’s not something I care about a great deal, or I would have figured out a different way to spend my free time. Still, it’s a funny thought. Maybe someone could come up with Writers! The Musical or something next. But it still wouldn’t be nearly as good as the Toxic Avenger.

Or at least, the first dozen drafts wouldn’t.

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