Long before he hit the mainstream and won a Tony Award for writing the musical “Memphis,” out playwright Joe DiPietro wrote the lyrics for the off-Broadway hit “The Toxic Avenger,” in which an idealist scientist gets thrown into a drum of waste and emerges a green superhero. It’s now playing at Horizon Theatre in a terrific production directed by Heidi Cline McKerley. One of the ensemble members is openly gay Austin Tijerina, who plays a number of supporting characters, including some women.
Georgia Voice: How familiar were you with this show before you auditioned?
I was in New York when it came out and I was an usher for it and some other shows. And I loved it.
How many characters do you play and do you have a favorite of the characters?
I play 15, I think, and four of them are women. I think my favorite is the cop.
What about a favorite musical number?
I would say “My Big French Boyfriend” (in which a blind librarian falls for the Toxic Avenger.) I think one of my favorite parts of the show, though, is seeing (co-star) Michael Stiggers get ready to play Shinequa (one of the backup singers in one number) and really get into it.
How gay is this?
There are some obviously very gay parts. It can be very campy.
Do you think that LGBT audiences can relate to the outsider main character?
Yes, I think that is an easy connection
‘The Toxic Avenger’
‘The Sound of Music’
Fox Theatre 660 Peachtree St., NE Atlanta, GA 30308 March 1–6 www.foxtheatre.org to make. I think nowadays, though, we are more like the avengers, which is nice.
‘The Sound of Music’
Another musical about to open is the classic, “The Sound of Music,” brought to town by Broadway Across America. We caught up with out actor Christopher Carl, a Broadway veteran who spent three years in the New York cast of “Mamma Mia!,” who plays Admiral von Schreiber.
Georgia Voice: Why does “The Sound of Music” hold up?
I think there is a universal message in the show about good triumphing evil. I think that is one thing that never gets old. It exudes warmth, it’s about family, but it’s also more than that. That is why it is such an audience pleaser.
To me, for the main characters in the show, it’s all about people who fight a nemesis, like this looming darkness on the horizon. That is a gay and lesbian life. You live with this looming out there.
Cast members from the Off-Broadway hit ‘The Toxic Avenger’ now running at Horizon Theatre Company and Broadway classic ‘The Sound of Music’ at The Fox Theatre. Publicity photos)