Florida Studio Theatre’s Stage III makes a lot of noise with Toxic Audio.
By Kay Kipling
If you’ve ever wondered about the abilities of the human voice to produce all sorts of seemingly impossible sounds, then Toxic Audio, now onstage at Florida Studio Theatre’s Stage III Gompertz Theatre, is for you.
This Orlando-based a cappella group makes a living by not only singing without the benefit of instruments, but by performing the sounds the instruments would make as well, with their voices. That’s right—guitars, percussion, bass, you name it, they do it. Of course, the amazement of that might wear off after a few numbers, so Toxic Audio has wisely concocted a series of gimmick-laden musical skits to help demonstrate their talents.
For example, on a version of Paperback Writer, one of the five cast members (Jeremy James) improvises a rap song using random words selected by audience members from books quickly flashed in front of them by the rest of the cast. On Autumn Leaves, Michelle Mailhot Valines, who scats with ease, is put to the test delivering the lyrics in a number of quickly changing languages, including Tagalog. And on The Rose, Matthew Buckner employs a trunkful of visual gags to punctuate the story the lyrics tell.
There’s lots more audience participation during the evening (performed in about 75 minutes with no intermission), so be forewarned. There are also a couple of more straightforward numbers (Stand By Me, Turn the Beat Around), along with an original tribute to the technical director/sound engineer, John A. Valines III, who works the wonders of the sound board Toxic Audio demands.
All in all the cast, which included on the night I attended Shalisa James and Chadd Winston, performs with energy and professional skill; they obviously have their schtick well in hand. Toxic Audio continues through May 4; call 366-9000 or go to floridastudiotheatre.org for tickets.