Whitireia Performance Centre, 25-27 Vivian Street, Wellington

16/02/2012 - 18/02/2012

NZ Fringe Festival 2012

Production Details

Love can be tricky, but on Broadway it’s downright twisted!

As part of Wellington’s Fringe Festival 2012, Energy Theatre is excited to present Hot Toxic Love – a showcase of Broadway’s most twisted takes on romance in all its forms. This musical cabaret delves into the trials, tribulations and darker sides of love as well as the powerful and poignant.   Eight performers sing and perform songs from 29 different musicals, including the traditional and the very modern, the show features some well-known favourites as well as some you may never have heard of before. 

“WithHollywoodlove stories we’re often left asking questions – what happens after the honeymoon is well and truly over? What if his best friends feel left out? What if she’s more adventurous in the bedroom than he is?” asks director Matt Bentley.

“There’s a lot of musical theatre that expresses and explores those unanswered questions and examines all sides of the story.  We’ve intentionally chosen songs that explore the realistic elements of love and relationships.”

“But of course, there’s always room for the romantic, passionate side of love as well. It’s going to be naughty. It’s going to be funny. Just remember: it’s not going to be what you expect!” 

Energy Theatre has made its name inWellingtonproducing quirky and innovative musical theatre, but prides itself on looking at every side of the story – the dark and light, the love and hate. 

Matt says that Hot Toxic Love is “edgy, in-your-face theatre. Choreographer Sam McLeod has created some thrilling dance numbers that bring the musical arrangements of our outstanding musical director Hayden Taylor, to life.”

Hot Toxic Love’s chorus numbers, duets and solos come from a variety of shows, including Legally Blonde, Into the Woods, Les Miserables, The Wedding Singer, Avenue Q, Edges, Toxic Avenger, We Will Rock You, Reefer Madness, The Last 5 Years, Young Frankenstein and many, many more. 

A cash bar will be operating, with Valentines and anti-Valentine’s Day- treats for sale, and a fun Valentines-themed photo booth in the main foyer of the Theatre before the show and during the interval. 

Tickets are available at , $20-30.

Hot Toxic Love
16th-18th of February at 8pm,
with a 3pm matinee performance on Saturday the 18th
Whitireia Theatre,25 Vivian Street,Wellington. 

Nick Purdie
Bridget Connor
Megan Corby
Manaia Glassey-Ohlson
Trish Butterfield
Sam Benton
Jared Pallesen  

Songs that transport, entertain and move

Review by Jo Hodgson 17th Feb 2012

“Love in its various forms acts as a major facilitator of interpersonal relationships, and owing to its central psychological importance, is one of the most common themes in the creative arts.” – Wikipedia.

True to this quote, Hot Toxic Love is a many faceted love-filled musical revue presented by Energy Theatre. This is the fifth production from a team of local Wellingtonians who want to provide theatre opportunities with a “fulfilling, relevant experience for all involved.”

The excellent cast of 8 – Sam Benton, Trish Butterfield, Bridget Conner, Megan Corby, Manaia Glassey-Ohlson, Jen Jewell, Jared Palleson and Nick Purdie – take us down a road of unrequited love, couples therapy sessions, love out of reach, the passion, the pain, the bliss, the thrill, the satisfaction, the sex, the madness, and the beauty. Sometimes poignant, other times raunchy, they give their all to convey the story of each and every one of the 36 pieces from 29 musicals!  

There are challenges in taking songs like this out of their show context and making them come alive without the backing of the full story but I am impressed by everyone’s brilliant storytelling. A lot of this programme is new to me, and I doubt if I am the only one, so clarity and diction are essential to the enjoyment of this new repertoire. 

The singers pull this off beautifully but on opening night were overshadowed by balance issues with the band at times. The level of the voices seem right for the space and it’s my personal belief that microphones are there to enhance the volume of the singer, not to beef them up so far that it distorts the natural quality of the voice. I hope the band can pull back a notch to let them soar over the top without forcing.

That aside, the band – under musical director Hayden Taylor – does a great job with all the differing genres and a massive amount of music and the voices with more ‘cut’ have less trouble being heard in the bigger numbers.

The quite large stage space for this more intimate theatre is used well. A couple of tables and chairs are the only props needed and are used to break up the space or provide levels. Large white twisted fabric pieces on either side of the stage provide a lovely surface for the effective colour wash applied to each song. They look to me like hourglasses, which adds an urgency of time to this game of love.

The choreography by Sam McLeod is fresh and slick, with lots of clever and humorous references to popular dance culture, particularly Something About You’ from Altar Boys where the boy band phenomenon is satirised with such verve. 

The cast, under the direction of Matt Bently, look comfortable and trust each other particularly in the more risqué numbers. Jared Palleson needs special mention for his flexibility while Jen Jewell flings him round during the excellently choreographed and sung If (You hadn’t but You Did)’ from Two in the Aisle.

It’s a huge undertaking to put on a show like this, and I’d like to point out that all those involved in this production volunteer their skill and time. Energy Theatre is providing a platform for up and coming performers and ‘old hands’ to walk the boards and perform music that doesn’t get heard often.

The level of performance is extremely high though not always consistent. The absolute standouts for me on opening night were: Trish Butterfield’s ‘Taylor the Latte Boy’ by Marcy Heisler and Zina Goldrich; Jared Palleson’s ‘Run Away with Me’ from The Unauthorised Autobiography of Samantha Brown; Manaia Glassey-Ohlson’s A Miracle Would Happen’ from The Last Five years; the fabulous close harmony work by the boys in ‘Medley’, from Five Guys named Moe; and I always love – no matter how different the voices in a company are – when they come together so the unity and sound that erupts forth is fantastic.

Going to the theatre one expects to be transported, entertained and moved. This production certainly achieves this and more. All the very best for the rest of the season.  


Editor February 17th, 2012

Thank you Brendan - the MD credit has now been added. As you will see from the 'Request a review' link to the left, we do request all credits and do like to list all creatives, cast and crew on the production page.

B. Lockwood February 17th, 2012

I went to Hot Toxic Love on their opening night as well, and whilst I agree with the majority of this review, I feel a few things need another point of view, to assist you in making the choice whether or not to see this production.

Firstly, DO see this production. It is definitely well worth it. Secondly, the arrangement of "Run Away With Me" was not from 'The Unauthorised Biography of Samantha Brown;' it was arranged specifically for Hot Toxic Love by the musical director Hayden Taylor - I overheard the band talking about the difference between scores at the end of the production. It is unsettling that this incredible song went uncredited not only in this review, but also in the actual programme. Also, why, in a review for a musical, are there credits at the top of the page only for the choreographer and director? It can't be a musical without a musical director, and a mention in passing is hardly appropriate.

In terms of the show as a show, I would disagree that the band was too loud: they were literally just clearer than the singers. The sound issues were not the fault of the band, nor of the singers: the microphones used were not of a high enough standard to pick up the vocals at times, making them sound muted, not quiet - this could have been solved by using shotgun mics hanging from the rig at the back of the stage. The effect is that some words are, indeed, lost, and it sounds as if the performers are singing through a glass wall at times. There was also an issue with mics not being turned on when the vocalists began singing occasionally. The lighting design was a tad laclustre; there were dark spots on stage (not for theatrical effect, just due to the lighting rig), and some of the LED's kept flickering, which was distracting if nothing else. Other than that, my last lighting niggle was the choice of wash for the 'Wicked' number: please, please, something other than green next time. For anyone who doesn't know the musical, out of context, green for that song does not make sense - are the singers jealous? Green with envy? No, it is just a reference to the show 'Wicked,' which is about the green wicked witch from Oz.

The choreography was standout above all other stage use - and the singers' stamina must be credited; the last number (a disco medley from 'Priscilla, Queen of the Desert') would have put Broadway performers through their paces!

The last person who needs crediting is costume designer Brendan Goudswaard. The simplicity of the costumes gave them an elegance without distracting from the performers' ability, which is all you could dream for in a concert-style show. Colour matching between couples (there are four in the show), helps the audience to follow the (sometimes vague) storylines. 

In conclusion, definitely see the show. For a musical theatre lover, this is wonderful as it showcases so many different musicals in the space of two and a half hours, and we all know there are no where near enough musicals performed in our lovely city. This one definitely showcases the more talented performers to be found in Wellington.

Brendan Lockwood

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