B-list horror movies don’t always gather a whole lot of buzz. Often, they are completely forgettable, laughable and just god-awful. That is not the case with the 1980s Sam Raimi horror series, The Evil Dead. The Bruce Campbell-lead series gained cult-status, to a Rocky-Horror level, and even inspired its very own, hilarious and violent musical. Evil Dead the Musical takes all the best moments from Evil Dead, Dead by Dawn and Army of Darkness and combines them into an action-packed musical with Ash Williams, fighting off a horde of Candarian Demons in two hilarious hours.
This is my second time seeing the show, and prior to this viewing, I was able to watch the entire horror series. It opened up my eyes to how many of the musical’s jokes are specifically aimed at fans of the movie. The show is funny enough to entertain anyone who walks through the (awesomely epic, chapel) doors of the Randolph Theatre, but if you are a fan of Evil Dead to begin with, you will get a lot more out of this show than your average theatregoer. As Ash says, the story is about as classic as it gets.
A group of college kids go up to spend a week in an isolated cabin in the woods and accidentally summon a horde of evil demons that kill them off one by one, leaving a lone hero and survivor to fight for his life.
This show, directed by Christopher Bond, brings a whole new cast to Evil Dead. We are given a new lead with Trent Mills taking on the classic role of Ash Williams. I felt that Ryan Ward (the first person to take the role since the musical’s creation), had a lot more Bruce Campbell-ish qualities to his performance, really bringing out the traditional side of Ash’s character, but Mills put his own refreshing twist on the character, which worked very well for this show.
The rest of the cast worked well with one another and brought a lot of their own twists and quirks to their iconic characters. The onstage chemistry was perfect for making sure that a 30-year-old story, and a now 10-year old stage production stays fresh, humorous and enjoyable.
As I mentioned in my review from two years ago (see A Bloody Riot in our archive), one of, if not the best aspect of this show, is its musical numbers. If you’re not a huge fan of musicals, you can put aside all preconceptions because this show takes musical numbers and turns them on their heads.
Instead of a classy wholesome song like, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” we’re given crass, inappropriate, sarcastic, horribly pun riddled, and witty lyrics. “What The F*&^ Was That” gives us a side-splitting bit on the immediate reaction of two friends after they have to shoot one of their friends, and “Look Who’s Evil Now” has Saphire Demitro’s character Cheryl go into vivid detail about how she’s going to torture her friends.
Now let’s get to the nitty-gritty. The blood and the guts. As I have mentioned a couple of times before, this show is based off of the B-list movies of the same name, and one trope we all know and love (or love to hate) is the over-the-top violence. The stage play keeps true to these tropes, with gratuitous uses of fake blood, severed limbs, and of course, CHAINSAWS FOR HANDS! The onstage violence is well choreographed to perfectly straddle the line between realism and pure fromage. If you are lucky enough to be in the designated “splatter zone” of the show, you will get an up close sense of just how much blood is used in this show.
Evil Dead will always be awesome. The show has been going on for ten years now, and at the rate it is going, I can see it easily lasting for many more. With the release of the AMC show Ash Vs The Evil Dead, I feel like a wider audience will find this show, and enjoy it. If you don’t get to see this year’s production of the show (though I highly advise you do), then make sure you get your tickets when the next run is announced. It is a must-see show in Toronto, and should you be brave enough, the Splatter-Zone cannot be beat!
Evil Dead The Musical is running until Feb. 28 at the Randolph Theatre. For more information visit www.evildeadthemusical.com.