'Toxic Avenger' hits the Highlander

Written by Muleskinner Staff

Senior Writer

(WARRENSBURG, Mo., digitalBURG) — The University of Central Missouri Department of Theater and Dance bring comedy wit to the stage in their latest production, “The Toxic Avenger.”

The musical is scheduled to run April 5-8 at 7:30 p.m. each night and 2 p.m. April 9 in the James L. Highlander Theatre on UCM campus.

Zachary Kujath, freshman musical theater major, plays the role of Melvin/Toxie. Kujath said the show is hilarious and wildly fun.

“If there’s one simple thing I want the audience to take away, it’s a good time,” Kujath said. “There’s also a real feeling of hope that runs through the show, which I hope the audience sees and can keep with them after the show ends.”

Leah Eggiman, sophomore musical theater major who plays the role of Sarah in “The Toxic Avenger,” said although she wants the audience to enjoy the hilarity of the show, she hopes they will also take time to appreciate the heart behind it all.

“There are many lessons to be taken away from this show, such as acceptance of those who are different and also the importance of fighting for what you believe in,” she said.

Kujath said being a part of the show has been an incredible experience.

“The cast gets along so well, and we have a ton of fun in rehearsals,” he said. “Everyone is really supportive and open to experimenting with scenes, and it makes the show even better.”

Matthew Briggs, freshman speech communication and theater education major, joins the cast as a duo of “white dudes” alongside Arthur Clifford.

“It feels like I ran a half marathon by the end of it due to all the quick changes, intense choreography and fight sequences,” Briggs said. “The cast and crew behind every production are absolutely incredible to work with, and by the end of the run I feel as if I have gained a wealth of knowledge from my experiences with the company.”

Briggs said the underlying message of the show is to accept people for who they are.

“My hope is that people will leave the show feeling uplifted and hopeful,” Briggs said.

Kujath said guest director, Steve Barth, is great to work with.

“He has a clear vision for the show, while also giving us freedom to make some of our own decisions and trusting us to add our own personality to the show,” Kujath said.

Briggs said Barth is extremely detailed, funny and insightful.

“The amount of knowledge that he has bestowed upon me is remarkable, and it is clear how passionate he is about the work that he creates,” Briggs said. “I cannot thank the department enough for allowing students this invaluable opportunity.”

Eggiman said the detailed nature of this show makes it hard to pull together but Barth always comes to rehearsals with new ideas and a game plan.

“He creates an awesome atmosphere during rehearsals which helps with the creative process so much,” Eggiman said.

The show is for mature audiences only and will not admit any children under 5 years old, according to a press release.

Tickets for “The Toxic Avenger” are $15 for the general public, $12 for faculty, staff, senior citizens and military and $7 for students. Tickets may be reserved by calling the box office at 660-543-8811, or online at https://www.ucmo.edu/theatre/calendar/tickets.cfm.