Why The Toxic Avenger Musical closed abruptly in 2010
By Scott Jeffries
Last fall Danforth residents watched their renovated Music Hall transform into “Tromaville” as Dancap productions prepared the venue for the opening day of The Toxic Avenger Musical. The idea comes from the 1984 cult classic The Toxic Avenger which spawned three sequels (with a fourth on the way) as well as a short-lived children’s TV spin-off called Toxic Crusaders — and then, in 2009, its new incarnation in musical theatre.
The stage design of The Toxic Avenger Musical came right out onto the Danforth; there were prop barrels of toxic waste, massive sidewalk stickers shaped like ooze, and eye-catching banners hanging right over the street. So, with all of this attention, how come so few people went to see it? Why did it close after only two months?
“Ever since the show’s Oct. 31 opening, Dancap was fighting an uphill battle against mixed reviews and a venue not familiar to theatregoers.” explains Richard Ouzounian, theatre critic of the Toronto Star. “Even the casting of musical theatre star Louise Pitre as the villainous mayor failed to cause much excitement and the show just never took off.”
Dancap production even had the advantage of a Ticketmaster promotional scheme in which customers were offered up to eight free seats to a performance of their choice, but that offer still failed to stir sufficient interest in Toronto theatre to keep Toxic Avenger afloat.
Originally, The Toxic Avenger Musical opened off-Broadway in the spring of 2009, but was also unable to attract enough theatre goers and so it coincidentally closed the day after the Toronto version on January 3rd of this year. The last theatre production of Dancap was the musical-hit Jersey Boys which has been running successfully at the Toronto Centre for the Arts since August, 2008.
Perhaps with Toxic Avenger they’d hoped to repeat the campy-horror success of Evil Dead the Musical, but alas it was not to be, and so the Danforth music hall has been detoxified for the time being.