Lloyd Kaufman is an entertainment mogul; a cult hero thanks to staunch independence as creator, director, producer, writer and actor for his company Troma Films.
While his career path of making low-budget, obtuse films is unusual for a Yale graduate who shared classes with the likes of Oliver Stone and George W. Bush, it is because of the 63 year-old’s dedication to the layman’s way of doing things and oddball ideas that he has become an institution.
His steadfast belief that anyone can be a filmmaker has heralded a bevy of films with unforgettable characters from ghost chickens to redneck zombies and rabid grannies.
One of those cogs in the Kaufman wheel, B-film anti-hero The Toxic Avenger, has found its way to the stage. As a musical, no less. Kaufman’s 1982 tale of simple nerd Melvin Ferd being dumped into a vat of radioactive toxic waste by evildoers and becoming New Jersey’s first super-hero The Toxic Avenger has been adapted for the stage, overrunning Toronto’s Danforth Music Hall this fall.
“(Troma has) been making movies for 40 years. I’m still surprised that people actually pay to see movies that we make,” notes the typically-campy Kaufman.
“You can imagine how thrilled I am that something that came out of my head in 1982, something that (people) almost ripped my head off over has been made into three sequels, a cartoon show, children’s toys and now a major successful award-winning musical comedy. I feel like Cinderella in a beautiful sparkly ball gown — and I love wearing women’s clothes.”
Spawned from his own life-long adoration for musical theatre, The Toxic Avenger Musical boasts not only a series of original rock songs performed live and a cast of Toronto-based performers but in keeping with Troma style, Kaufman notes there will be plenty of special effects which he admits are, “hilarious, witty and cutting edge without being graphic, crude and disgusting the way they are in my movie.”
“The effects with Toxie himself (his transformation and look) are totally hilarious. Even though he’s not the most attractive super-hero, things such as disembowelling, ripping off heads and dismemberment (which in my movies have made audiences run for cover), have been transformed by Tony Award winning Director John Rando and brilliant effects master John Dods, into delightfully hilarious special effects which can please, entertain and delight audience members from ages nine to 90.”
And while insiders of the B-film and horror industries are assuredly familiar with the Toxic Avenger legacy, Kaufman says a background isn’t entirely necessary to enjoy this stage rendition.
A sense of humour, however, is crucial. “The musical successfully mainstreams the wonderful satire, slapstick and politics of the four Toxic Avenger movies,” he says.
• The Toxic Avenger Musical is on until Jan. 3, 2010 at The Music Hall, 147 Danforth Ave.
• Tickets are $15 to $64 for preview performances (until Oct. 31) and $20 to $69 for regular performances. To purchase, call 416-644-3665 (toll free 1-866-950-7469) or visit www.ToxicAvengerToronto.com
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