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March 6, 2004

Orlando Sentinel

New York is about to learn what Orlando has known for years -- the joys of going toxic. Toxic Audio, Orlando's popular a cappella quintet, is getting set to make its name in the Big Apple beginning in April with an open-ended off-Broadway run. The group -- Jeremy and Shalisa James, Rene Ruiz, Paul Sperrazza and Michelle Valines -- will begin performances of a show they're calling Loudmouth! at the 287-seat John Houseman Theater April 7. The official opening will be April 18. With the five Toxins moving to New York, a farewell-to-Orlando performance is scheduled for March 19 at the Margeson Theater in the Lowndes Shakespeare Center in Loch Haven Park.

The upcoming New York gig came about after Toxic performed a two-week showcase engagement there in January. The show drew interest from various producers, including respected theater producer Eric Krebs, who owns the John Houseman Theater. "He had heard of us and was real excited," Ruiz says. "And he wanted us sooner rather than later."

The Toxins' plan, he says, is to clone themselves in the same way that shows such as Stomp and Blue Man Group have done -- to create other companies of Toxins that can tour or do extended runs in other cities. Already the group has eight or nine fill-in singers in Orlando, who have stepped in to perform when one or another of the core group could not.

Toxic Audio first performed publicly six years ago at the Orlando Fringe Festival. Recognized for its singular brand of a capella pop, jazz and comic sound effects, the group went on to win the national Harmony Sweepstakes in 2000 and was named "best pop group in America" by Ed McMahon's Next Big Star. Now Toxic Audio doesn't have to worry about its upcoming opening: The Toxins have been getting ready for years. "We've had six years to tweak it and hone it," Ruiz says.

Posted by acapnews at March 6, 2004 8:27 AM


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