Evil Dead: The Musical
Also see John's review of Mack and Mabel
The plot of the musical takes creative liberty with the plot line of the movies, mixing together the characters and concepts of all three, as well as changing sequences for the sake of the stage and comedic intent. Five college students spend the weekend in an abandoned cabin in the woods, accidentally unleashing an evil terror. Characters and demons alike sing and dance while leading man Ash fights off a stream of never ending evil.
This production of the musical Evil Dead: The Musical plays to every over-acted horror film cliche while mixing in broad visual and physical comedy. Add in one-liners with takes to the audience and you have a surprisingly funny show. While there is not a sincere acting moment in the show, that would be the point. One can imagine the impact that the blood and violence depicted in the musical would feel very different without this brand of comedy. For the sake of the show one must accept script inconsistencies such as the bodies that disappear without explanation between Act 1 and Act 2, and Annie the daughter of the deceased professor, claiming that all the men in her life have been killed by demons since prom, when the demons hadn't been released till long after that. ("All The Men In My Life Keep Getting Killed by Candarian Demons") This is however high camp, so it all flies by without much room for real objection. There is inherent to the style of Evil Dead: The Musical a self-mocking, comedic tone about standard musical theatre format/characters. On the heels of a similarly styled, but much less funny Promethean Theatre production of Cannibal! The Musical, one wonders if the company will broaden it's horizons by doing a musical that is about more than just gimmick and ham. It would be nice to know they can do both. For those considering bringing the family to this show, it is not likely to really scare or offend anyone, but the coarse language and depicted violence make it a PG-13 show. With or without the kids however this show is genuinely entertaining and may make you want to come back again.
Matthew William Chizever is sensational as Ash. It really is all about Ash vs. The Demons, and one can imagine Chizever as the hero in a dark, comic book tale of terror. His scene fighting with his own demon-possessed hand is very well staged and wonderfully executed. It is a perfect exercise in pantomime techniques put to good use. His singing voice is strong and expressive throughout the show, and he holds his parts in harmony sections of songs much better than Troy Davidson (Scott) who tends to sing under pitch. Kaitlyn O'Neill (Cheryl) has a big voice and strong comedic skills, managing to hold attention regardless of playing most of the show from the chest up only as her character is trapped in the cellar. One wishes that there was more line and song for David Dearstyne as the henpecked Ed. The song >Bit-Part Demon" barely gets off the ground before it is over, but that is the comedic nature of the abrupt ending to the song. Still, Dearstyne manages to shine for a brief moment. The only weak spot in the show is Jamie Mattocks as Linda. She doesn't have much of a singing voice and her acting choices are somewhat bland and vague. The character is written as the stock good girl, so perhaps this is intentional, but it is disappointing.
The demon dance "Do the Necromonicon" is the best of intentionally tacky choreography, complete with references to the "Time Warp" from The Rocky Horror Show and a dance move called "The Fonz" in honor of the character from the TV show Happy Days. The special effects of this production are extraordinarily well done. In addition to the overhead rain of blood for those lucky enough to be seated in the splatter zone, they feature prosthetic props, lots of blood and gore, lightning fast makeup changes, and a cabin whose entire contents seems remote controlled including a talking/singing/moving mounted moose head. On the night attended all appeared to go off exactly as planned an on time. Getting all of this right in a movie or on TV is one thing because you can always do another take, but there are no second chances to get it right in live theatre until the next performance. Special congratulations are in order to Scenic Designer Dan Gelbmann, Technical Director Ed Fitzpatrick, Taso Stavrakis for the fight and blood FX, Tyler Smith for prosthetic props, and Neidra Ward for make-up for making this all happen. And for those of you worried about the rain of blood, not all seats get rained on, and ponchos are available!
Evil Dead: The Musical will be appearing through September 26, 2010 at the Black Box Theatre in the PVA wing of the Don Taft University Center at Nova Southeastern University. TNSU is located at 3301 College Ave., Davie, FL 33314. The Promethean Theatre is a professional theatre company in residence at Nova Southeastern University. They are a nonprofit, regional theatre company seeking daring, creative, and original approaches to classical pieces, as well as contemporary and new works, that engage the imagination and inspire passionate discourse among its artists and audience. For more information on the theatre and its season, you may contact them by phone at 786 317-7580, and by email at www.theprometheantheatre.org.