BWW Reviews: Zombies, Moose, and EVIL DEAD - THE MUSICAL

Please be advised that the show discussed in this article contains strobe and flashing lights as well as gunshot effects in production...and, oh yeah, there will be blood.

BWW Reviews: Zombies, Moose, and EVIL DEAD - THE MUSICALState Street ran red with stage blood last night as the North American tour of Evil Dead - The Musical opened in our fair capitol city. The Overture Center's Capitol Theatre was prepped with plastic and chair coverings for the first few rows of the orchestra section so that fans of the cult classic film (on which the show is based) could be drenched in the crimson goop. Because of the show's relation to the original Evil Dead film and its sequel, which were released in 1981 and 1987 respectively, the cast was met with an enthusiastic crowd that filled the house.

Filled with catchy tunes and Rocky Horror Picture Show-esque dance moves, Evil Dead was a crowd pleaser for sure. Leading the cast was the charming David Sajewich as Ash, the fearless leader of the group, who strutted around the stage battling zombies and an evil stuffed moose. With an impressive vocal range, Sajewich was able to close the gap when his microphone sporadically flipped on or off. He rolled with the punches which made the technical difficulty nearly unnoticeable; although it seemed to be rectified by the end of act one.

With the capable Christopher Bond at the helm, this small cast of talented, young performers kept the laughs rolling as heads did the same. By allowing the incorporation of visible stagehands, spraying extra blood on set pieces just for extra laughs, Bond kept the audience in on the joke. Despite the backstory of the musical, it's a show that does not take itself too seriously and the audience should do likewise; although if audience members did not catch onto the satire, the hand (reminiscent of Thing from The Addams Family) traversing around the stage probably got the point across.

A cast member who really deserves applause after last night's performance is Demi Zaino. Her portrayal of Cheryl demanded the most drastic changes throughout the show and she handled it with grace. Well, as much grace as a girl possessed by a Candarian demon can muster. Zaino's role is arguably the most iconic character of the original cult film, but she took the character to a whole new level.

One character that surprised me the most was "Good Old Reliable Jake". I was not sure how the musical

BWW Reviews: Zombies, Moose, and EVIL DEAD - THE MUSICAL
Cast after opening night in Madison.
Photo provided by Amanda Finn

interpretation would present his persona, but if the film version of the character had pipes like Andrew Di Rosa, Jake would've been the fan favorite in the sequel. Although Di Rosa does not come into the show until almost the end of act one, he bursts onto the scene with an incredible amount of vigor. His solo song was his big moment to shine and he did not disappoint.

What did disappoint were the bizarre lighting malfunctions that ran throughout the show. One extremely bright, white spotlight kept finding one section of the left side of the orchestra section. I began to wonder if the technicians were trying to point out where I was sitting, because the light always wound up on me. To be fair, it is a feat for any group of technicians to have to set up and tear down in a new space for touring productions, but it was distracting none-the-less. I'm certain the cast members noticed the illuminated audience members shifting uncomfortably in their seats wondering "What the F@#$ Was That" whenever this occurred. However, being the young professionals that they are, they marched on.

There are no words to describe this cast as a collective unit. Despite what Cheryl and Annie (played by Callie Johnson) had to say, there were no "Bit Part Demons". Their performances, in some cases between more than one character, were cohesive. It is in that cohesion that the greatness of this show truly shines. Having been the first production on the tour, I can only foresee the quality increasing on an already killer show. Good things will be in store for this young cast if they keep knocking audiences out like they did last night.

So to those of you in the area, get out and see Evil Dead - The Musical before the hearse rolls out on Sunday night. Don't forget your ponchos.

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From This Author Finny (Amanda Finn)

Amanda lives in Madison, WI and joined BWW in the spring of 2014. She has relished every moment spent in a theatre since then. She (read more...)

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