Last weekend, as a present from two of my cousins who couldn’t attend my bachelor party, I was abducted and taken into the wilds of New Jersey. They didn’t tell me what I was in store for, and I sat in the back seat in fear as the exits continued to pass… and we delved deeper and deeper into places no mortal ever should. It was similar to the last scene in The Mist, except it smelled a whole lot worse. It wasn’t until we ended up in the strange little college town of New Brunswick and stopped in front of the George Street Playhouse which had THE TOXIC AVENGER plastered all over the marquee that I realized what was going on.

Yep, we were there for The Toxic Avenger Musical.

Toxie’s no stranger to musicals- lots of amateur productions have inexplicably found inspiration in Lloyd Kaufman’s creation and used Toxie as their Hitler. But this is the first official, professional production, oked by Lloyd himself and with a huge amount of talent behind it. The director, John Rando, won a Tony for Urinetown. The music and lyrics were done by Joe DiPietro (I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change) and Bon Jovi founding member David Bryan, which was an absolutely perfect choice, because (for better or worse), what says Jersey more than Jovi?

Troma fans will notice lots of changes to the original story, which actually works great. There’s nothing more boring than watching an adaptation take you through the same highs and lows of the plot, and while it’s still fairly similar (Melvin’s a dork, falls into toxic waste, dates a blind chick, gets revenge on the mayor) the path and jokes are new. The music is pumping, rocking stuff, and with songs like Hot Toxic Love, Everybody Dies, and  Thank God She’s Blind… you can tell that the film’s got its heart in the right place.

That’s the best part about this musical, that it completely understands the source material. When’s the last time you saw a musical full of jokes about blind and retarded people? That had limbs being dismembered all over the place and organs plucked out? It even breaks the fifth wall a ton of times, making fun of New Jersey and itself. I couldn’t stop smiling and laughing as I watched this…. and I usually can’t stand musical! (Although I’ll admit to a soft spot for Moulin Rouge. Make all the gay jokes you want.)

Every single member of the cast (all five of them) is incredible, playing multiple roles and really getting into the proceedings. Nick Cordero’s Toxie is perhaps the best version of the character ever, perhaps aided by the fact that his makeup is less intensive and he can emote more.

Tony Award nominee Nancy Opel steals the show frequently as the evil town mayor and Toxie’s mom, and David Josefsberg and Demond Greend (as White Dude and Black Dude, respectively) play a ton of roles and are frequently the funniest part of any song. Audra Blaser (Sarah) not only has an amazing voice but pulls off the blind jokes incredibly well,  constantly stumbling offstage during musical numbers and banging into stuff.

I really can’t recommend this enough, even if you have to go to Jersey to experience it. There are a few special events coming up this week for Halloween, so check the official website out for more info. The production ends on November 2nd, but if all goes well the musical will hit NYC mid-November, and I fully intend on seeing it again.

With this, Evil Dead: The Musical, and The Fly opera, could this be a new wave of horror adaptations? Sure as hell beats remakes…