When Dennis Arnold asked Rick Bumgardner if he had ever heard of the musical “The Toxic Avenger,” all Bumgardner could bring up was the 1984 schlocky superhero B movie of the same name.
But Arnold turned it to the casting album and Bumgardner read a sample screenplay and – “I thought my god it must be on our stage because it’s wonderful,” Roxy’s art director said. Downtown.
Under Arnold’s direction, “The Toxic Avenger” runs through Halloween at Roxy’s.
The musical is a collaboration between Joe DiPietro and Bon Jovi keyboardist David Bryan, who followed “Avenger” with Tony Award winning “Memphis”.
“The music is insanely good and the show is funny – it’s a comedy, but it’s a satire and a parody,” Arnold said. “It kind of mixes up a lot of (musical) genres. And he has an audience.
Arnold compared the fandom to “Toxic Avenger” to “Rocky Horror” and “Evil Dead: The Musical”.
Matt Hale, who plays “Toxie,” first heard the cast’s album while a student at Wichita State.
“I fell in love with music in college,” he said. “I thought, this is the craziest thing I have ever heard. I jumped at the opportunity to be a part of it. “
Hale is part of a five-person cast for the series, which also features Kalene Blanton as Toxie’s lover, a blind librarian; Christi Moore in three roles; and Ethan Crank and Levon Mathis playing dozens of characters, identified only as “White Dude” and “Black Dude”, respectively.
“They play men, they play women. They play the good guys, they play the bad guys, ”Bumgardner said. “They are everywhere.”
Much of the comedy, Arnold said, comes from the constant character changes.
“There are going to be a lot of costume changes,” he said. “I can’t tell you, but it’s so funny that the actors are laughing through it all, the changes they’re making.”
The look of the series is “like a comic book coming to life,” Bumgardner said, and “Toxic Avenger” is more than its surface.
“There’s that element of Marvel superheroes, but there are a lot of dark undertones and messages to the show,” he said. “If you thought you weren’t going to learn something or feel something, you’d be wrong. You will feel it on this show.
When: Until October 31; performances at 8 p.m. from Thursday to Saturday, at 2 p.m. on Sunday
Or: Roxy Town Center, 412 ½ E. Douglas
Tickets: $ 30, from 265-4400 or roxysdowntown.com