Olivia Marie Thompson, Neil Brewer & Rebecca Leigh in Evil Dead: The Musical
Photo: The Alley Theater
Evil Dead: The Musical
Music by Christopher Bond, Frank Cipolia, Melissa Morris & George Reinblatt
Book & Lyrics by George Reinblatt
Directed by Joey Arena
Review by Keith Waits
Entire contents copyright © 2014 by Keith Waits. All rights reserved.
As a movie franchise, the Evil Dead series is already both an archetype and a savvy and ironic pop cultural milestone. The creators of this stage musical adaptation dialed up the cheek to even greater levels of self-referential absurdity. That there is a “splatterzone” in which audience members are liberally doused with fake blood is as good an indicator as you will find of the gleeful excess that fuels the entire enterprise.
So one need look less for subtlety and nuance than a vehement attack on the material – a take-no-prisoners, visceral embrace of the viewer is what’s called for, and this production, directed by Joey Arena with blood-soaked relish, does exactly that.
The plot combines elements from Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2, which is actually as much of a remake as a sequel, and there is more than a nod to Army of Darkness, the last film in the trilogy. It has pretty much nothing to do with the 2013 Evil Dead remake.
This is the third go-round with this material for The Alley Theatre, each time in a new location, and each time with a different Ash. This version features a high-octane performance by Neil Brewer in the role. He may not quite fit the beefy, lantern-jawed physicality of Bruce Campbell’s iconic original, but he captures the manic, driven-to-the-edge-of-insanity energy, sings and dances well enough, and is simply damn funny. Susan Crocker brings her Annie to the stage with an air of officiousness, and then later brings the sass as she becomes embroiled in the struggle with Candarian demons. Her big number, “All the Men in My Life Keep Getting Killed by Candarian Demons”, is a highlight of the score, and Crocker’s voice is up to the task.
Rebecca Leigh is back as Cheryl, and there is nothing stale about her third turn in this role. She appears to be having too much fun. Tony Smith, Daniel Smith and Felicia Corbett highlight a hard working and effective ensemble. The singing and dancing are well executed, with appropriately kitschy choreography from Valerie Canon.
And then there’s the blood. You can pay extra to sit up close in the “splatterzone”, and you will certainly get your money’s worth. If you make this choice, I advise you to close your complimentary poncho up tight and wear something more…casual. You will be thoroughly soaked in “gore”.
Evil Dead: The Musical
October 3 – 31, 2014
7:30pm – Tickets are $20, or $30 for the limited seating “splatterzone” where you are guaranteed to leave the theater covered in blood.
The Alley Theater
633 West Main Street
Louisville, KY 40202
[box_light]Keith Waits is a native of Louisville who works at the Louisville Visual Art Association during the days, including being one of the hosts of PUBLIC on ARTxFM, but spends most of his evenings indulging his taste for theatre, music and visual arts. His work has appeared in Pure Uncut Candy, TheatreLouisville, and Louisville Mojo. He is now Managing Editor for Arts-Louisville.com[/box_light]