Thursday, October 2, 2008

Birth of a new musical!

I recently sat with Joe DiPietro to talk about the creation of The Toxic Avenger which began previews last night to an enthusiastic audience! Below is an excerpt of my interview.

Q: What was your reaction when first asked to make The Toxic Avenger a musical?

Joe DiPietro: It’s funny, because I get a fair amount of calls about people trying to turn various movies into musicals. I had seen the movie about 20 years ago, so I immediately thought, “Oh My God, I love that idea, it’s so off the wall, and I know the perfect guy to write it with.” So I hung up the phone, so excited and immediately started writing an outline of what I wanted to do, and within an hour I knew it was going to have five people, three of them play many roles, I just had the whole feel of it. It’s a pretty good sign when you can write like that…

Q: What are some of the challenges of adapting the movie to the stage?

JD: When I first watched the movie again, I thought it was a weird, odd, fun movie, but aimed at teenage guys under the influence. I didn’t think the movie would work on stage and wasn’t interested in doing a literal translation. I loved the premise of the story so much, that if Lloyd Kaufman (who is the creator of the Toxic Avenger) would let David and I make up our own story, but stay true to the spirit of the film, then I could do it.

Q: How did you come up with the other characters?

JD: It’s a bit of Charles Ludlum’s “Theatre of the Ridiculous”, and also from my experience with I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change having 4 people playing sixty characters. I love that theatrical conceit, the idea of people playing multiple roles. We obviously have two actors playing 20 characters each, of every gender and age imaginable. The movie was a low-budget movie and I thought this needed to be a fun low-budget musical. Obviously, the subject matter is so over the top, it had to match the feel of that.

Q: What about The Toxic Avenger makes it appropriate for a musical?

JD: Well, I wouldn’t want to go see a “monster play” but a monster musical is much more interesting and I really haven’t seen any of those. Musicals need to have a specific milieu that gives it an environment. The Toxic Avenger is essentially set in a toxic waste dump in New Jersey, which is pretty offbeat for a musical. It’s such a heightened story, with heightened emotions, so there’s a lot of passion to sing about. We really worked hard to make sure that the love story between the Toxic Avenger and the blind librarian he falls in love with remains central to the story.

posted by Scott Goldman, Executive Assistant

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