BWW Reviews: EVIL DEAD: THE MUSICAL at ArtsWest

ArtsWest continues its streak of Seattle premieres with their current production of "Evil Dead: The Musical".  And while the show can use a little tightening up, it's still a bloody good time ... literally!

Based on the original three "Evil Dead" movies, the story follows your typical horror movie fare.  A bunch of college students going to an isolated cabin in the woods for a week of debauchery when they are beset upon by a demonic force, hell bent on using them to claw its way into our world.  When they arrive at the cabin they find an old book and by reading aloud passages, they release the demons and all hell breaks loose.  But, the difference here is that this is not a horror movie, it's a musical.  All of the classic slasher movie elements are there but are handled with a wink and a smile as the show parodies the source material and horror movies in general.  A perfect example is when Cheryl, the hero's sister, hears something outside and announces to the audience, "Mother always said when you head a dark, scary, potentially life threatening noise out in the woods there's only one thing you should do ... not wake the others and go investigate on your own."  You get the idea. 

And like with any good horror movie ... er ... musical, there is blood (just in time for Halloween).  But the blood is not limited only to the stage.  Yes, those in the first row (and even further back) are in what they call the "Splatter Zone" and are warned that they will get bloody.  Not to worry though, it's all in good fun and washes out quite easily if it gets past the ponchos provided. 

Now I have to say, I adore this show.  I think it's the perfect blend of irreverent comedic pop culture and musical theater.  And I've seen it twice before, once with the original cast in New York and once in Vancouver BC (both times in the "Splatter Zone").  And this production holds its own right up there with those other two amazing productions.  As I said, there were some technical issues that could have used some tightening (it's a VERY technical show) but I'm sure that will happen in no time.  But even with the technical gaff here and there, the cast and crew kept the hilarity going.

And what a wonderful cast they are.  They have the feel of the genre nailed down and are right there with every wink, pun and stab.  I especially have to note a few stand outs.  James Padilla as Ash is the perfect handsome swaggering action hero.  He handles the goofy over the top comedy with ease and matches it with a gorgeous voice.  Kate Jaeger is hilarious as the dominating Annie.  She struts and slinks around the stage with enough sex appeal for 10 horror movie damsels and then wows the audience with her belting lament of all her demonically lost loves.  And Ryan Demerick is glorious as the over sexEd Scott.  He was spot on for every comedic moment he had.  He's just plain a joy to watch and a killer voice to match.

But wait there's more.  A stunningly technical set form Dan Schuy and fantastic tear away costumes from Margo Walker just add to the fun to be had.  All helmed up with a lightening pace from director Christopher Zinovitch.  He even managed to make the scene changes fun with little bits and gags.  The squirrel was absolutely wonderful (you'll know what I mean when you see it).

All in all a goofy, fun musical joy ride with buckets of blood to boot and one not to be missed.  If you're looking for good musical theater, go.  If you're looking for a good comedy, go.  If you're looking for a different kind of Halloween event, go.  Really, just GO!  And if you're brave enough, go for the "Splatter Zone".  It's the cherry on top of an already fabulous experience.  But leave the nice clothes at home and watch out for flying hands.

"Evil Dead: The Musical" plays through November 20th at ArtsWest in West Seattle.  For tickets or information contact the ArtsWest box office at 206-938-0339 or visit them online at www.artswest.org.

Photo Credit: Michael Brunk



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From This Author Jay Irwin