So sitting here in rehearsal on Friday afternoon, and director John Rando just told the actors to “pick it up from the lyric — “I’ll be your bookselling whore.” So all is normal in Toxieland.

Last night we had our second preview. And in theatre, there is a stomach-churning phenomenon (at least it’s stomach churning to this author) known as “Second Night.” “Second Night” basically means that the second performance of any show rarely goes as well as the first performance, since the first performance was fueled by nerves and excitement and terror (for some reason, that combination tends to create a really terrific evening of theatre.) Also, the audience for a second show doesn’t contain any rabid first-night fans of the show, so it generally takes the crowd a little longer to warm up to what they’re watching.

But in a true New Jersey miracle, I’m thrilled to report that our second preview went terrifically. The actors were sharper than ever and our “second night” audience laughed in the right places and applauded in the right places and seemed to have a helluva time. And I didn’t break out in a rash once! (note: see “first preview” blog for clarification.)

As smoothly as it all went, in order to entertain you Toxaholics, we’re back in rehearsal today trying to perfect anything we think we can make funnier/sharper/cooler/more touching, And I brought my camera along to record all the fun. And please note: neither I nor Nancy Opel brought our dogs today because we are TRUE THEATRE PROFESSIONALS. Yes, Rocco and Momo stayed home so there are no NO DOG PICTURES! I REPEAT, THERE ARE NO PICTURES OF ANY DOGS! Just people and dismembered arms.

First up, a pic of cast geniuses Sara Chase, Demon Green and Matthew Saldivar (not in costume but in fashionable street clothes) singing through their big “Oprah” number. Now, I bet many of you are saying: “Whaaaat? A big Oprah number in The Toxic Avenger?” My answer: “Oh yeah, baby.” And here they are about to rehearse the song on the set of Sarah the blind librarian’s apartment.

By the way, as they rehearse “Choose Me, Oprah,” our two fantastic and top-of-the-wedding-cake-beautiful understudies — Erin Leigh Peck and Nicholas Rodriguez — are also rehearsing off to the side, mimicking the dance moves they see on stage. Here’s an adorable picture of them. Seriously — just look at these two. People shouldn’t be that talented AND good-looking. It’s just not fair to the rest of us.

Please note: Erin and Nicholas are our ONLY understudies for the show. So Erin understudies all the female roles (Sarah the blind librarian as well as Ma Ferd/Mayor,) while Nicholas covers Melvin/Toxie and all the roles played by both the Black Dude and the White Dude. And both Dudes play, like, ten roles each. That a lot of dudes he has to cover.

While the actors works their butts off on the stage, director John Rando sits in the audience and shares his thoughts and feelings over “The God Mic,” which is called “The God Mic” because the person holding it (usually the director,) generally bellows out directions into it and his voice is heard throughout the theatre and folks tend to obey his commands. Every show has a God Mic in rehearsal, and someone in some show decided to name it by deifying it and that name has stuck. And amazingly, today Rando gently touched my leg while holding The God Mic and cured my knee injury.

Toxaholics mostly request that I post pictures of David, followed by requests for pics of the cast, then my dog, then backstage scenes. Once in a while, someone requests a picture of me, but it’s a rare occurance. Anyhoo, here’s a lovely picture of David with one of his favorites songbirds, Nancy Opel. David looooves that he can write ridiculously high notes for Nancy to belt, and she belts them out of the ballpark (well, actually, out of the theatre.)

Folks often wonder how choreographers figure out dance moves for the actors (actually, I have no idea if folks often wonder this or not, but I needed a lead-in to the next photo and it was the only thing I could think of.) Most choreographers work out dance moves with an assistant in order to see how the moves fit on each other. Here’s our spectacular and spunky choreographer, Wendy Seyb, and her assistant, Keith, coming up with some new moves to teach the actors. By the way, it looks like Keith is about to punch Wendy, but I think they’re just rehearsing our torrid tango, “Evil is Hot,” so they’re simply acting “with passion.”

In our backstage “quick change” area, it looks like someone mistakenly left their jacket and arm, right next to the guitar Matthew Saldivar plays when he sings “The Legend of the Toxic Avenger.”

That’s it for today’s action shots, Toxaholics. Hope you enjoyed. By the way, the advertising department (Allied Live) just came up with one of the FUNNIEST AD LINES I’VE EVER HEARD for our show. Okay, okay, I know what you’re thinkin’ — “Joe, you’re overhyping this! It couldn’t possilbe be ONE OF THE FUNNIEST AD LINES YOU’VE EVER HEARD.” Oh yeah, skeptical reader, get a load of this —

The Toxic Avenger: The craziest thing to come out of New Jersey since Whitney Houston!

See? Told ya. Love it, love it, love it.

Anyway, we’ve been workin’ hard and the show is really rockin’ and it should be fun to see it with a drunk fun weekend crowd! And tomorrow, I’ll give you a full report and post a few more rehearsal pics.

Okay, okay, I know I promised ‘no dog’ pics but, damn it, I couldn’t resist! Sorry, sorry, sorry. So I leave you with a reprise from last week of Rocco being a bit freaked out by a large mutant hand.

That’s too freakin’ adorable.

Note to self: Must fervently hope Whitney Houston doesn’t read this blog.

Love to you and yours and me and mine,