from the archives of: www.newyorkcool.com

Rene: We want to be sure there are a variety of sonic effects throughout the show and make sure we are not repeating the same effect. Each piece should have a particular sound and feel to it, both from a sound standpoint and from a lighting standpoint.

NYC.COM: WHO ARE THE ARTISTS YOU LIKE LISTING TO?

Paul: Michael Jackson! (This is no surprise. He moves just as well - if not better - than the legendary Jackson)

Shalisa: People who play with their voices a lot like Bobby McFerrin, Take Six, and Manhattan Transfer. We put our own spin on things but they have been an influence. We have been called Take Six on Crack and Manhattan Transfer on Drugs.

Toxic Audio
Toxic Audio

NYC.COM: I WANT TO ASK ABOUT THE AUDIENCE INTERACTION. THE AUDIENCE MEMBERS SEEM TO REALLY ENJOY IT. WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR WHEN YOU PICK SOMEONE TO BRING ON STAGE? HOW DO YOU KNOW THEY WILL PLAY ALONG?

Jeremy: The show is constructed so that each volunteer has maybe has just a little more to do than the last. That’s why we start with group responses from the whole audience, it loosens people up. Paul has the first volunteer, (In a sweet, romantic date vignette) who can basically just sit there and look nice and be a cute girl and not much is really required...except to put up with Paul.

Paul: I want them to be as uncomfortable as possible!!

Jeremy: For all of us there has to be a little discomfort. You don’t really want an actor up there, you really want a normal person who is maybe a little timid but ready to have some fun and kind of learns with you as the bit progresses. We never sit there - we never speak in the show - so we can’t sit there and tell them “OK, now you should do this.” So it’s fun to throw these challenges at people and watch as they learn. So they realize what we want them to do and then, if it really works, they start to add their own spin. We actually hope the whole audience does that to some degree throughout the show.

Rene: That is a very big part of the show. We say in the show “Never underestimate the power of the human voice.” It’s not just the idea of how we communicate with other people with our voices, but how we communicate without our voices.

NYC.COM: YOU REALLY DO CONNECT TO THE AUDIENCE. THEY
REALLY FEEL LIKE THEY ARE A PART OF THE SHOW.

Paul: When the audience is feeding it back to us, we put on a 150% show, it’s awesome.

Shalisa: It’s really fun when we are backstage listening to the opening segment. It’s more fun for us when we hear the audience going nuts...we don’t want to hear anyone shhushhhing!

NYC.COM: DOES THAT HAPPEN?

Shalisa: The show is so non-traditional, sometimes it takes a few minutes for certain people to catch on.

Rene: It is not everyone’s cup of tea but it is not an extreme either, like De LaGuardia. It is important to remember that we are not doing anything to demean people or make fun of them. We are not doing it in a simple way, we do it in a really smart way. We want the audience to think.

NYC.COM: YOU HAVE BEEN ALL OVER WITH THE SHOW. MEXICO, CANADA, THE CARRIBBEAN. HAVE YOU FOUND THAT THE NEW YORK AUDIENCE IS SIGNIFICANTLY DIFFERENT THAN OTHER AUDIENCES?

Shalisa: We expected that it would be and it really has been surprisingly very, very receptive and pretty wonderful to us.

NYC.COM: DID YOU THINK NEW YORK WOULD BE LESS RECEPTIVE?

Shalisa: We thought it would be a tougher audience to win over and it’s just been amazing!

Rene: We knew it would be a smart audience so I think there were a couple of instances where we said “You know what, let’s play up to them - the intelligence that we are going to be greeted with here.” It’s not that other audiences aren’t intelligent, it’s just that New Yorkers have seen soooo much! They are...

Jeremy: Savvy and not easily impressed.

NYC.COM: WHERE DO YOU SEE THIS ULTIMATLY GOING?

Rene: The idea and the original intention was to be able to put something together that would become a franchise like Stomp or Blue Man. I think it’s not effective to look at that happening in the long run. I think right now we are especially looking at putting our intentions into making this as successful as we can, making this run as strong as we can. Where it takes us from there? It’s just a question of what we want to tackle next because we have got to find the audience. Right now we have a situation of audiences really loving it, but we are not selling out every night. We are trying to figure out how to reach more audience and create more business than we know what to do with, so that we have a reason to create alternative outlets.

Jeremy: Our goal is to make Toxic Audio as recognizable as Blue Man. So when people hear the name, many of them will automatically just get it. We would love to “brand” Toxic Audio.

NYC.COM: WHAT WOULD IT BE LIKE TO CAST THIS SHOW WITH OTHER COMPANIES? ARE THERE MANY PEOPLE OUT THERE WHO CAN DO WHAT YOU DO?

Shalisa: As far as what we have done creatively, probably not, because it has been six years behind putting it together. But, performing it, the way that we have set it now, we do believe that there are people out there who can do that.

NYC.COM: SO THIS IS SOMETHING THAT CAN BE LEARNED?

Rene: The very first year of Toxic Audio, Paul was not doing any vocal percussions at all and literally picked it up in a couple of months and honed it and has worked on it a long time to get it to the point where it is today - but it can be learned from scratch...

Paul: IT AIN’T EASY!!!!!!

Shalisa: With the right people and the right skills, it certainly can be learned. We hope that we have put in the creative legwork and now the learning curve will be easier for any new cast.

Rene: The other option is doing what we have done with our group. That is finding people with unique talents and building pieces around them.

With the audience now lining up in the lobby, I reluctantly let this talented group of artists go. Spread the word! Toxic Audio in Loudmouth are voices that must be heard to be believed!

Toxic Audio in Loudmouth
The John Houseman Theatre. |450 west 42nd Street, NYC
www.telecharge.com or 212-239-6200
www.toxicaudio.com

Related Links: Toxic Audio Review

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