A View from the Cliff: “The Toxic Avenger” rules Rockaway!

Attention! Attention! A new champion is challenging the Rockaways. He’s green, gruesome and grisly but he loves his mother. Could it be? Yes. It’s the Toxic Avenger at Fort Tilden in the Gateway National Recreation Area.

The Rockaway Theatre Company’s current production reunites some of the troupe’s most popular performers and creative team members.  They’ve plunged head first into this bizarre but hilarious tribute to a 1980s cult classic.

Director Frank Caiati’s personal wit and style are abundant in his overall direction, scenic design and musical staging.  The small cast constantly morphs into an endless stream of unusual characters.  Their humor arises from their shamelessly blunt dialogue, deliberately sophomoric songs and exaggerated mannerisms.

Chazmond J. Peacock who rocked the house this summer in “La Cage Aux Folles” triumphantly returns as the very funny Black Dude/Assorted Characters.  Returning as White Dude/Assorted Characters is Matthew Smilardi.  He is hilarious whether playing a tough guy or a bearded woman with a beehive hairdo.  Also playing multiple roles is Reanna Flemons-Adelstein who correctly describes her riotous role as filled with “wildly inappropriate content”.

The story involves nerdy Melvin Ferd the Third.  He’s an idealistic environmentalist who is hurled into a barrel of radioactive toxic waste.  He emerges as a grotesque, musclebound hero named “The Toxic Avenger.”  Miguel A. Sierra plays both parts with a touch of campy comedic class.  As expected, he is smitten by a gorgeous but clueless librarian.  The character is played with magnificent irreverence by theatre veteran Catherine Leib.  A delightful triple threat, she can sing, dance and deliver comedy flawlessly.

The audience often laughs uncontrollably in response to the musical’s endless “gross-out” absurdities.  The stage is frequently choked by smoke. It is also cluttered with dozens of waste drums that overflow with green goo.  The overall mood is unbridled comical chaos.  Just check out these members of the band, “Sewage.”  There’s Junkyard Jeff (Arzberger), Richie Wretch, Aw-Phil, Atomic Aaron, and Twinkling Drew Vanderwinkle.

The unmistakable effort, energy and affection that is the hallmark of RTC is always obvious. Kudos to Susan Jasper, Suzanne Riggs, Adele Wendt, Gabrielle Mangano, Tony Homsey, Peggy Page and the dozens too numerous to acknowledge by name.

For information on this and future productions, call (718) 374-6400 or visit www.rockawaytheatrecompany.org. As always, save me a seat on the aisle.

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