Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Evil Dead: The Musical

[rate 4]Evil Dead: The Musical Logo

When we heard someone had produced a musical based on Evil Dead, we couldn't pass up the chance to see it. So, six of us hit the trail to New York, and made a day of it. We rented a mini-van and left at about 9 AM for the 3 1/2 hour trip.

The play started at 7 PM, so we had time to take in some sights, particularly Madam Tussauds Wax Museum, which was awesome in itself (but I'll leave that story for another time).

When we arrived at the theater, in plenty of time to grab a couple of drinks, I noticed that the attire wasn't typical for a play. Instead of men wearing suits, and women wearing dresses, nearly everyone was wearing jeans and a black t-shirt (a movie t-shirt, at that). This was definitely a crowd you'd expect to see at Horrorfind, not Cats. And we fit in perfectly.

The theater was small, fitting about 400 people. We sat toward the left about mid-way back, with a decent view of the stage. I noticed that a plastic poncho rested on each seat in the first three rows (more on that later).

The opening scene, much like the opening scenes of the first two movies, has the main characters riding through a wooded area heading for a cabin. They instantly set a hilarious tone as we see five actors riding in a 2D jalopy probably made of plywood, each actor hanging out the side. Behind the car, prop masters slide 2D cutouts, attached to sticks, to show the car's movement. The gang passes by plants, animals, and even some road kill. This in front of a cartoon backdrop of a forest, the actors singing "Cabin in the Woods".

Once they arrive at the cabin, the full stage opens to reveal the cabin's interior. The set designers did an amazing job recreating the cabin's interior look in the films, down to the moose on the wall (more on the moose later). All of the other sets -- including, believe it or not, an airport -- are created with a backdrop in front of the cabin set. A tiny airplane attached to a cable flew above the set. There is also a forest, used to replicate the trees that attack Cheryl (as seen in the first film).

The story is a mixture of all three movies, Evil Dead (ED1), Evil Dead II: Dead byMy wife and I in front of the theater Dawn (ED2), and Army of Darkness (AOD), taking most of the plot from the first two. Our hero, Ash, and his friends sneak into a cabin for some fun. They find a book of the dead and a tape recording left by a scientist. When they play the recording, Candarian demons are awakened in the woods and come after them.

Ash's sister, Cheryl, who is even more of a whiny pain-in-the-ass in the play, wants to leave. Ash takes her, but they're stopped by the the bridge being impassable (the bridge is, of course, a tiny Styrofoam prop with crime scene tape in front of it). So, they head back. Cheryl, still freaked out, runs into the woods by herself (the natural thing to do when scared, she says), and is attacked by the trees.

She returns to the cabin, bruised and bloody, but seemingly normal. Until she turns into a demon. That's when pandemonium ensues, and it's every man, woman, and demon for him/herself. The demon scenes led to some great musical numbers, such as "Look who's evil now", "All the men in my life [were killed by Candarian demons]", and my favorite "What the...[fuck was that]?"

They are later joined by the scientist's daughter (Annie) and her boyfriend (Ed). After finding the "bridge" out, they needed help to find the cabin. They run into a local named Jake, who, reluctantly, takes them. When they arrive, blood is all over the house, and they find Ash cutting off his girlfriend's head with a chainsaw. So, Ash has to convince them he's not homicidal, and encourage them to help stop the Candarian demons.

One of the funniest moments, also taken from ED2, had Ash arguing with the furniture, believing he's going crazy. He's particularly spooked by the moose head on the wall, which appears to be picking on him. Another memorable part is the song "Bit-Part Demon" in which Ed feels sorry for himself because he's a minor character that doesn't make much of a contribution to the story.

Earlier, I mentioned that the first three rows had plastic coverings. This is due to the gallons of blood that fly around on the stage when Ash fights the demons. It was impressive to see them pull off moments from the movies that I couldn't imagine being done on stage. For instance, Ash has a battle with his own hand. As in the movie, his hand has a mind if its own, and slaps him around, cracks dishes over his head, and flips him over several times. That was cool. Then, Ash grabs a chainsaw and cuts his hand off -- and the blood flies. But that doesn't compare to the carnage in the finale. We saw many folks after the show that had "blood" stains all over. They must have been too slow with the plastic.

The only flaw I found with the production was with the Cheryl character. I felt she was over-the-top whiny, and at one point she spews out a barrage of puns, which grew tiresome after a while.

The play as a whole was great fun, and non-fans will probably enjoy it, too. Though, it mainly caters to true fans. In fact, the audience cheered, and sometimes got to their feet, when Ash used a line from one of the movies -- particularly, "Groovy," which I think aptly describes the experience.