As a fan of Sam Raimi’s fantastic, twisted Evil Dead films, I was pretty pumped when I found out that a theatre group was putting on a slick musical based on the classic horror films. The only thing that had me worried was the musical part. I mean, there have been good musicals based on all sorts of things, but it takes more than a bit of talent to come up with a decent, and funny, song about something that makes sense in an Evil Dead sort of way. You know, involving blood, and demons, and how to use a chainsaw to cut off your own hand.
There’s no doubt though that Evil Dead The Musical really is hilarious. It’s so good at capturing Raimi’s classic moments that any fan will probably have to be dragged away from the splatter zone, kicking, screaming and covered in fake blood.
Starring the pitch perfect Ryan Ward as Ash, the reluctant hero who has to fight against the forces of those evil Candarian demons. Things get rolling with our five college friends headed on vacation at an abandoned shack in the woods. Along for the trip are Ash (Ward); his girlfriend Linda, played by Tara Macri; Rachel Fishcer as his sister Cheryl; his friend Scott, played by Matt Olmstead; and Sarah Cornell as Scott’s girlfriend Shelly.
The vacation comes to a quick halt however when, quite shockingly of course, the friends suddenly realize that Cheryl has been taken over by a demon. All hell breaks loose, literally you could say, and from there the group has to fight for their sorry little lives to survive. And all the while they break out into song. The story follows the films pretty closely, and branches out for lots of little asides and jokes that will leave Evil Dead fans cheering.
That’s really the best reason I can give you to go see Evil Dead The Musical too. The script is funny, the actors are dead on, but the lyrics are hilarious. Sure, the camp factor and all that cheese greases the way for these numbers, but it’s hard to stop laughing once the group launches in to “Look Who’s Evil Now” or “All the Men in my Life Keep Getting Killed by Candarian Demons”.
The cast do a great job of bringing these songs alive, and none more so than Ward who is a perfect Ash, and practically acts like a walking, talking and singing tribute to Evil Dead star Bruce Campbell. Cornell, who does double duty as Shelly and Annie, and is also well known for playing Ulla in The Producers in Toronto, also does a fantastic job as Shelly the floozy, but especially as Annie the geek goddess. You also can’t see Evil Dead The Musical without giving some special praise to Mike “Nug” Nahrgang (Mustard Man for the Farkers) who steals the show as “Good Old Reliable Jake”.
Co-directed by Christopher Bond and Hinton Battle, Evil Dead The Musical is not to be missed. It’s appeared in Toronto twice now, hit the Just For Laughs Festival in 2004, and played off-Broadway in New York last year. If you’re really looking to experience the show right you’ve also got to go and sit in the splatter zone, the front seats by the stage that tend to get covered in fake blood near the second half of the show as people get battered, bruised, shot, and chainsawed into bits.
Evil Dead The Musical is without a doubt one of the best shows to smear itself onto a Toronto stage, so get out there and see this show. Take your friends, get covered in fake blood, laugh your asses off, and then go back and see it again.
Photo 1 by Dmitri Melemed, Photo 2 by Carol Rosegg.