I’ve been a fan of the Evil Dead film series since I first saw the horror movies as a child. About a year ago I looked up the musical adaptation on Spotify and listened to a few tracks from the original cast recording. A recent, annoying theater trend has been to turn every hit movie into a stage musical. These plays are usually insufferable cash-grabs, with poorly written lyrics and lifeless music that belittles the movie that came before it, but Evil Dead is one of few film-to-musical productions that successfully adapt and, at times, even improves on the source material.
The plot of the musical is relatively faithful to both Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn. The only actual set is the interior of a cabin, with most other scenes performed against a closed curtain. The sparse production values adhere to the low-budget nature of the films, and I found them quite charming. Fans of director Sam Rami, who approved the adaptation, will find several in-jokes and Easter eggs poking gentle fun at his lengthy film career.
The cast is uniformly great. The lead actor who plays the heroic Ash, Chris Weidman, ably wields the infamous chainsaw once belonging to Bruce Campbell. In a bit of serendipity, one of the actors, Greg Korin, is actually from my hometown and starred in several local productions before leaving behind our fair city for the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas. I had previously seen Mr. Korin perform in Glengarry Glenn Ross alongside future Pennsylvania state representative Sid Michaels Kauvlich. Since Mr. Korin was able to handle David Mamet’s rapid-fire dialogue I knew he would be equally impressive as Evil Dead’s Jake. It’s no surprise that Korin’s solo is the funniest song of the play.
I sat in the splatter zone, an interactive seating area where audience members are doused in fake blood during the onstage death scenes; the first row of was covered in plastic like some demented Gallagher show. Evil Dead is a very bloody affair, and I was drenched by the time intermission rolled around. The splatter zone was well-worth the upgraded ticket price and enhanced the play tremendously. My only complaint was that the blood was cold and I started to shiver after spending ninety minutes sitting in a pool of fake gore, viscera, and ichor; luckily, I had my jacket with me.
I’m so glad I bought a ticket for Evil Dead: The Musical during my trip to Vegas. It was honestly the most fun I’ve had in a theater since the Broadway revival of The Rocky Horror Show. I would recommend this production to any fan of the original Evil Dead movies or the new television series. After the show, I posed for a photograph with the talented cast and went home with a signed t-shirt.Tags: brandon hatalski, evil dead, las vegas