Memo From the RTC: Raucous (Laugh) Riots Break Out in Rockaway as Toxic Avenger Infection Spreads
By Norm Scott
I didn’t expect to love The Toxic Avenger, the Frank Caiati-directed rock musical currently running at the Rockaway Theatre Company through this weekend (Fri., Sat. at 8PM, Sun at 2PM). I was there to tape on opening night and figured that once would be enough. NOT. I went back last Sunday – and the show was even better and I’m going to every show I can get to this weekend. With word of mouth spreading about one of the funniest shows we’ve seen at the RTC, at a time when many people feel they need a good laugh, seats will be scarce, but make every attempt to see this show.
Musical Director Jeff Arzberger (Junkyard Jeff) has recruited Richie Wretch, Aw-Phi, Atomic Aaron and Twinkling Drew Vanderwinkle for his band, SEWAGE. Frank Caiati has managed to convince five of the top RTC performers in history, all with spectacular singing and acting talents, to give up months of their lives to give our community this wonderful gift of a show. Between them they play 40 different roles.
Having RTC superstar Breezy Point native Catherine Leib back as the Blind Girl after a few years absence would be enough to make this show a must see. But the hits keep coming. Her tour de force performance confirms that she can do anything on stage. I always loved her in the straight dramatic roles she played in the past. This time she affirms what a great comic actress she can be. People were comparing her to Lucille Ball. A smart producer of stage, screen or TV should snap her up.
Chazmond Peacock (playing Black Dude) - one of the great talents not only at the RTC but in the world –just ask anyone who has ever seen him in anything - is back after his shattering performance in La Cage Aux Folles just a few short months ago. How does he have the energy to do these shows back to back?
Chaz is joined as a henchman by the always amazing Broad channel native, Matthew Smilardi (White Dude), who got raves and laughs playing Chaz’ maid in La Cage, joins Chaz on stage playing men, women and everything in between. I’ve never hear Matt sing better and camp his way to some of the biggest laughs of the night. (The 2 of them playing lady hairdressers is worth the price of admission). And wait ‘till you see those body parts fly.
Relative RTC newcomers Rheana Flemons Adelstein (the mayor and mom) and Miguel Angel Sierra (Melvin Ferd The Third) blew the audience away with their giant voices and comic acting talent. I heard Miguel sing at an RAA concert last year and was just waiting to see the RTC find a way to showcase his talents. Rheanna played Audrey in “Little Shop of Horrors” not long ago. Everyone couldn’t stop talking about her performance in Toxic. The power of her voice could knock down walls. But she matches that with a comic, campy performance, playing the evil mayor and Melvin’s mom, sometimes both roles at the same time – watch those magic costume changes.
Frank has updated some of the political material to reflect the times. Don’t be surprised to see photos of Donald Trump and Sarah Palin. We even saw some updating between the Friday and Sunday shows last week and we expect more fun to come this weekend.
If you haven’t called the RTC hotline (718-374-6400) to try to get in on the fun the second you finish reading this don’t be surprised to get a visit from some green guy covered in sludge with one eyeball on his check.