With crude humor and an action-packed script, the musical “Toxic Avenger,” inspired by a 1984 cult film of the same name, brings a rock ’n’ roll edge to the Columbus theater scene.
Produced by local theater company Short North Stage, “Toxic Avenger” tells the story of a nerd who gets dumped into a vat of toxic waste after seeking to discover who was the cause of pollution in his hometown. The exposure to toxic waste turns him into the Toxic Avenger, Toxie, a crime-fighting mutant who seeks to put an end to the villain polluting his town.
Executive director Tim Valentine said Short North Stage decided on the production because it deviated from the typical shows Columbus is used to seeing.
“The artistic director [Edward Carignan] went through choices and decided on “Toxic Avenger” because it had never been to Columbus, never been done in Ohio and never been done in the region,” Valentine said. “We picked it because it’s fun and edgy.”
Local actor Jesse Trieger plays the protagonist of the show, Melvin Ferd III, who later becomes the Toxic Avenger. Trieger, who began acting in community theater when he was a child, said “Toxic Avenger” is unlike any other show he has starred in.
“I’ve played nerdy characters before, but never somebody who’s so strongly fighting for what he believes in and is afforded the opportunity of becoming super strong and a mutant superhero,” Trieger said. “It’s fun, and the humor is adult and crude.”
Other characters who join Toxie during his journey are Sarah the Blind Librarian, Toxie’s love interest, and Mayor Babs Belgoody, the villain of the show.
Short North Stage is currently in its eighth season and has been producing shows since 2011. Valentine said Short North Stage casts local, national and international actors, which allows it to work with people who have different backgrounds and experiences.
“The most fun part about working in theater is being creative and having the creativity to pull off something very interesting on a small budget,” Valentine said. “I also love the people. It’s great being around all the creative people, bringing them together and watching the collaboration that happens.”
“Toxic Avenger” will be performed at 8 p.m. on Thursday and Friday and at 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $35, but students can get tickets for $15 if they show up two hours before the show with their student ID.