Four horny college students (& the bookworm sister of one) spend Spring Break in an abandoned cabin in the woods & discover a book bound in human skin. What could possibly go wrong? Well, when the cabin belongs to a mysterious & recently vanished professor of the occult and the book is the Naturon Demento…madness, mayhem, Candarian Demons, evil trees, possessed limbs, chainsaws, broomsticks and blood…lots and lots of blood. Pull on your rainslickers and hold on kiddies…this is “Evil Dead – The Musical” and it’s gonna be a gore-filled evening!
Adapted by George Reinblatt and based on Sam Raimi’s classic horror trilogy- Evil Dead, Evil Dead II & Army of Darkness (a perennial Halloween must-see in my household) – “Evil Dead- The Musical” is as campy, irreverent and wonderfully idiotic as the movies it’s based on. First staged on a bare-bones (pun slightly intended) budget at a small Toronto bar, this comic horror tale of S-mart employee Ash, his girlfriend Linda, sister Cheryl, best friend Scott and Scott’s girlfriend Shelley, has all the makings of an interactive classic. With song titles like “What The F#%k Was That” and “All The Men in My Life Keep Getting Killed By Candarian Demons” all I can say is “Rocky Horror Picture Show” should get used to sharing its cult status.
The Warehouse Theatre has a brilliant tradition of performing offbeat Halloween productions like the afore mentioned “Rocky Horror”. The current cast of “Evil Dead” continues that tradition with tongue placed firmly in cheek. Our hero, Ash, is played with consummate gusto by John Smiley, who comes to WHT from New York and steps comfortably into the role made famous by Bruce Campbell. His zeal for the role shows in every line – making even well-known quotes lifted from the movies (“Good…Evil…I’m the one with the gun”), entirely his own. His slapstick would make the Three Stooges proud, giving new meaning to the phrase “beating yourself up” as Ash battles for control over his demonically possessed hand.
The rest of the cast is not to be overlooked either. As the soul of each of the friends (with the exception of Annie) is seized by demonic entities (heralded by the very funky, “Look Who’s Evil Now”), these talented actors are essentially playing two roles in one. Even the cabin itself becomes one of the characters, as the décor also becomes controlled by malevolent forces in a demonic version of Pee Wee’s Playhouse (complete with an evil singing moosehead & creepy clown doll doing the twist).
When first introduced as Ash’s baby sister, Lauren Wilson’s, Cheryl is a sullen, socially awkward bookworm (whose reading material is an homage to Bruce Campbell), but when she is the first to be possessed, she’s sassy and brazen, popping up through the basement door like some demonic Jack-in-the-Box, with pun-laden groaners that are so bad, they’re good. Margaret Dalton, in her first WHT performance, plays Ash’s girlfriend, Linda, with such wholesomeness and sincerity that, even after her character is possessed, she’s still the Girl Next Door – if you lived next door to the Exorcist house. Chelsea Ann Atkins, as the super-smart, super-vocal professor’s daughter, Annie, is amusingly racy and absolutely delightful, handling multiple “wardrobe malfunctions” with mischievous naiveté. Local actress, Julia LeJeune plays the ditzy Shelly with an exuberant sex appeal that is a bubbly combination of pin-up girl and not-so-smart puppy. And Josh Broome play Scott, Ash’s obnoxious, sexist pig of a best friend to perfection…so much so, that I had to resist the urge to run up onstage & knee him in the nuts. Daniel Marlett, as the name-dropping good ‘ol boy Jake and Preston Taylor Stone as Ed, who’s “Bit Part Demon” is a scene-stealer, round out this colorful cast of characters.
Performances are at 8PM every Thursday – Saturday evening at The Warehouse Theatre from now until November 1, with midnight shows on Saturdays. For the macabre fan who truly wants to be part of the action, there are 8 greatly coveted Splatter Zone seats, where theatre-goers can revel in every gore splattering, bloody moment of maiming and dismemberment (and the cast is only TOO happy to oblige). Warning for Splatter Zoners – wear clothing you don’t mind getting ruined (black is best).This is not the time to flaunt the cute little trendy theatre going outfit. And don’t show fear…the cast can smell your panic like a Rottweiler can sniff out a steak. Tickets are $35 (more for reserved and Splatter Zone seating) and can be purchased online at www.warehousetheatre.com.
Although playful and flippant, this musical is definitely for adults only. Between the foul-mouthed demons (the backstage swear jar must be huge…and packed full), Annie’s ever diminishing costume and lines that border on scandalous (”That’s not the kind of head I expected to get from you this weekend” quips Ash as he decapitates his demonic sweetie), this is not the type of show to bring the kiddies to. And those who are easily shocked and offended should probably find another theatrical performance to attend. But if you like gore-filled, rowdy fun, rampant dismemberment, delightfully catchy, albeit a little disturbing, tunes and a finale of twerking Candarian Demonic Deadite zombies (five words I never thought I’d ever string together) gyrating in an 80’s inspired dancefest that is at once a tribute to Thriller, the Fonz and even Mylie Cyrus at her sluttiest, then this is the show for you! So listen up, you primitive screwheads, get yourselves to the Warehouse Theatre before this show sells out! Already have your tix? GROOVY…