BWW Interview: Blood, Guts and Gore with EVIL DEAD's Daniel Williston
Evil Dead the Musical is back in Toronto and bloodier than ever! The show opened last week to rave reviews, and audience members are flocking to the Randolph Theatre for a chance to experience this cult classic in all its gory glory. The show takes the cult classic film by the same name and adapts it for the stage, and Torontonians are excited to have the show back in its city.
The show had humble beginnings in August 2003 in the back room of The Tranzac Club, and returned to Toronto in 2007 at The Diesel Playhouse where it went on to become the longest running show the city had seen in over two decades and won the Dora Award for Audience Choice.
While there are original cast members returning for this new engagement (Ryan Ward and Alison Smyth) there are also a group of new people sinking their teeth into these iconic roles. One of those people is Daniel Williston, who sat down to talk to BWW about the Evil Dead experience so far, the show's history about (of course) all the blood and gore:
Congratulations on Evil Dead returning to Toronto! How has the reception been so far?
The reception has been fantastic! I was told Toronto loves this show, but I was trepidatious at first, it being so well received before and returning 5 years later and with some noobs in the cast. But the crowds have been welcoming and insanely loud and energetic; reviews have been pouring in all with very encouraging and kind words; and tickets have been selling like hot cakes with crowds packing into the Randolph. We've been working very hard and it's great to see that work being appreciated.
What would you say are the biggest changes between the show now and ten years ago?
Well, I didn't see the 2003 incarnation of the show, but I did see it playing at the Diesel Playhouse in 2008. We have a beautiful new set designed by Lindsay Anne Black which has been so fun to play on. We have reworked and nastier than ever blood effects courtesy of our tireless crew led by Chris Scott and Dan Sheard. Christopher Bond has returned to direct the show to which he gave birth, and he knows the animal so well now that he has wrung every last joke he can possibly get out of it. I've heard that this is the most intricate choreography in terms of dance (provided by the effervescent and relentless Stacy Maroske) and combat (by the badass of all badasses Kevin Robinson). Ryan Ward and Alison Smyth are returning to roles from past productions, but the rest of us in the cast are all new to the show, so I think that deep insight and new energy creates a taste that even if you've drunk from the well before, you're gonna wanna come back for more now. All the stuff people loved about the show is still here, but there's a bunch of new stuff to keep even the diehard fans guessing.
Why now and do you think the city is ready for more blood and gore?
I think now more than ever people are realizing musical theatre is a genre not just for the Old Guard. There's a time and place for Oklahoma! and Showboat, but with the success of shows like The Book of Mormon and Evil Dead: The Musical, I think a younger audience is realizing that this genre can speak to them. The comedy in this show is aimed at a demographic that doesn't necessarily seek out musicals or theatre with regularity. Hopefully those people will come take a chance and come see something that will take away all the "I went and saw Starlight Express once; musicals are just not for me." On the other hand, people who love musicals will, I think, find a freshness in there being a musical about this subject executed (no pun intended) with such irreverence to the genre it itself is operating within. This show doesn't take itself or the musical genre too seriously, and because of that, has a lot of comedy coming out of poking fun at the tropes of musicals as well as the tropes of the 80's horror flick. All of that to say it's a great time, and if you sit in the front row, you'll get soaked in blood. What more can you ask for in a night?
We hear that the infamous 'splatter zone' has been expanded and enhanced this year (complete with more blood) ... Just how bloody does a person get? And has anyone ever pranked you and thrown some blood back?