It’s about the underdog, in all his green and sludgy glory.
One might speculate that if David (oh-yeah-right-that-blond-guy-from-Bon-Jovi) Bryan spent as much time in the spotlight as his bandmates Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora, The Toxic Avenger Musical may not have been enjoying its current run at The Music Hall (147 Danforth Ave.).
The adaptation of the cult film classic about the deformed, radioactive superhero (starring Evan Alexander Smith and Louise Pitre) is the brainchild of the Bon Jovi keyboardist and longtime collaborator Joe DiPietro and is chock-full of theatrical, driving rock tunes with unapologetic, politically incorrect camp.
“It’s about p—ing off and offending as many people as possible,” Bryan laughs, assuring that though it met success off-Broadway, this repertoire would never see the light of day on a Bon Jovi stage.
“We were just, ‘go go go’ with this treatment and it was really f—ing funny. We laughed our a—es off,” says Bryan.
“But what really sold it for me was that I’m a songwriter, and I was looking for somewhere to demo my work. And with this musical, I got the chance to demo 20 of my songs, eight times a week. You can’t beat that.”
From a creative standpoint, it certainly tops the main gig for which he’s most known. Bryan admitted to frustration with the democracy — or lack of —in the band dynamic.
With Sambora in tow, Jon acts as a kind of benevolent dictator, writes the songs and ultimately decides the direction of the band, leaving little room for Bryan to do anything but stay in the back and tap his keys.
Nevertheless, it’s not a job he would trade, and notes that Bon Jovi, Sambora and drummer Tico Torres show great support for his side project.
“It is what it is,” says Bryan. “Every band has some sort of structure like that. Do I want to be in the front? No. They can have it. I’m happy in the back doing what I do, and I get to write musicals too.”
Add the bonus of putting his mark on the first-ever superhero from his home state of New Jersey, affectionately referred to by New Yorkers, he says, as “their dumping ground.”
The tale recounts Tromaville native Melvin Ferd the Third, who after getting dumped into a vat of radioactive waste by thugs mutates into Toxie, an oozing biohazard defending his state, and his blind librarian paramour, against a villainous governor.
Both on and off the stage, it’s your archetypal hard-luck protagonist fighting the uphill battle story: The musical about an anti-hero — written in part by one of the “other” guys from Bon Jovi, looking for his own moment to shine — fighting for the welfare of a state that, up until recent times (Jon Stewart, Kevin Smith, Jersey Boys and The Sopranos to name some real and fictional Garden State exports) has always played a cultural second banana to New York.
“A lot of that is changing because we’re getting recognized now,” Bryan says of his home.
“We were at this gig in Hong Kong and this guy comes up to us and says, ‘so you’re from Joy-sey, huh?’ And we’re like, ‘How the f—k does this guy know about the Jersey accent? He’s from Hong Kong!’”
• The Toxic Avenger Musical is currently playing at The Music Hall (147 Danforth Ave.). More details at www.toxicavengertoronto.com.