BWW Review: EVIL DEAD THE MUSICAL camps out at Obsidian Theater

BWW Review: EVIL DEAD THE MUSICAL camps out at Obsidian Theater

EVIL DEAD THE MUSICAL is a campy horror show full of horny teenagers, flesh hungry zombies, books made of human skin, and big song and dance routines complete with blood and internal organs flying. It's basically THE SOUND OF MUSIC set in a cabin and good fun for the entire family! Well.... Addams Family perhaps. Obsidian Theater let's their Halloween freak flag fly high with this fierce fun production that brings to life one of horror's most enduring heroes of all-time. Groovy!

FULL DISCLOSURE - I am a HUGE EVIL DEAD fanboy! I have seen all the movies, and watched the television series for three seasons on AMC. I have read Bruce Campbell's books, and would probably faint right away if I ran into him on the street. I own a replica of the Necronomicon, and may or may not have been possessed by Candarian demons that time I did Spring Break in Jacksonville, Florida. I also have a chainsaw hand which makes typing this review tough. I underwent surgery to get a dimple in my chin.

Much has been made of the EVIL DEAD musical, and certainly it has caused a sensation since opening in Canada around 2003. Probably the most well-known version is the 4-D experience offered in Vegas which features "SPLATTER ZONES" where the audience ends up coated in grue and blood in abundance. Don't expect any of that at Obsidian though... well at least not unless you attend their special splatter late night version. They keep it all pretty clean during the normal shows, and even have a special stage hand assigned to mop up errant bodily fluids as the show progresses.

What Obsidian has done is smart for their stage. They know they are basically performing in a shoe box sized theater, so they keep the gore and zombie effects gleefully comical. The whole thing plays out as if you were at a foul mouthed fourth grade production. They keep it cheap, cheesy, and largely bloodless. They use masks instead of make-ups, and nod to the fact that all of their strings are showing at any given moment. This has B-movie written all over it.

The cast is spot-on visually - they all look like young twenty-somethings who would play the innocent teens lined up for slaughter in a Hollywood horror romp. Madison Mapes and Caleb Wyrick stand-out as especially good at both singing and acting their way through playing sweet little angels who halfway through the show have to turn into line dancing demons. Madison has to zing out one liners from the basement, and somehow she makes that more interesting than it has a right to be. Caleb sings and dances his butt off (literally with parts dropping), and carries the best number of the night with his rendition of "Do the Necronomicon". They steal this one!

Elizabeth Tinder gets the thankless job of being the dumb blonde who ends up losing her head at a certain point. She does well with that, and amazingly can still sing after being beheaded. Kiara Steelhammer gets to play double duty as a busty brunette early victim (she's the sluttiest and has to die first) and then as Shelly the blonde scientist with tear away clothes. She's probably the strongest singer in the group. Brian Chambers makes the most of his bit part demon. Tom Stell is f----ing fun as Jake, and thankfully wears more clothes than he did in Obsidian's inaugural production of KILLER JOE. The ensemble including Nolan LeGault, Jeff Stallings, and JT Fischer make excellent trees, moose heads, and background dead people.

But what of James Duncan who plays our beloved Ash? He certainly has the look and the delivery of the "best chin in the business". He's a good looking dude with some snap to his line delivery. His acting is the strongest of the entire cast. He does alright with singing, but it seemed like he was either out of his range at times or his microphone was blowing out, because sometimes the band completely drowned him. His singing voice is not as strong as his chin, but he still makes for a good Ash simply for the rest he offers.

Technically I still don't get why Obsidian insists on using microphones. The house is super small, and real singers should be able to project well enough to be heard without these annoying things. For EVIL DEAD THE MUSICAL they weren't as bad as previous productions, but James Duncan should sue because it decreased the impact of his boomstick when his went dead. Bah! Who needs them? I wish someone would grow a pair and try a show without them for once. I can see the mics and the packs, and it ruins anybody trying to be scary when they look like they are about to deliver a Britney Spears medley.

Technically speaking for the rest of the show, the set is pretty damn good. Caitlin Dean has managed to recreate a multi-level cabin in the woods well, and has some ingenious gimmicks to boot. Dance Choreography is pretty awesome thanks to Breyia Walker, Elizabeth Tinder, and Sara Denton. Costumes from Caroline Harrell are spot-on and fun. Kelsey McMillan and Tom Stell do pretty good directing this thing as it were... they understand the space and how to stage it all.

Will you love EVIL DEAD THE MUSICAL? My only gripe is the show tries REALLY hard to be the next ROCKY HORROR, and that's a tough bill to fill. The pop culture jokes and inside nods to the movies will please your average 40 year-old horror/comic nerd, but I imagine others may be at a loss as to what exactly is happening. I would suggest if you are down for the splatter version hit the late night special viewings. This is a fun show that offers little more than the chuckles at some of the common tropes of these sort of things. As a real musical it's no great shakes, but as a camp night of laughable antics it works. Several shots of something beforehand will help a lot, and revisit the films if you get a chance. So if this all sounds like your bag, then you more than likely will have a great time. If you missed most of the inside jokes in this review.... may I suggest a TUTS show like OKLAHOMA?

EVIL DEAD THE MUSICAL runs through October 27th at the Obsidian Theater. Tickets and more information can be found at www.obisiantheater.org

Photo by Pin Lim & Forest Photography

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From This Author Brett Cullum

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