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BWW Reviews: Stray Dog Theatre's Fun Production of EVIL DEAD: THE MUSICAL

In keeping with the Halloween season, and in distinct contrast to the serious tone of New Line's brilliant Night of the Living Dead, we have Stray Dog Theatre's lively production of Evil Dead: The Musical, a campy gorefest based on filmmaker Sam Raimi's Evil Dead trilogy. The first two films are audacious and nutty "cabin in the woods" tales spiced with bravura camera work and copious amounts of blood and guts. The third movie sends our hero, Ash, back to medieval times to fight an Army of Darkness. This musical version combines elements taken from all three flicks, emphasizes the "splat-stick" aspects of all of them, and adds a fairly catchy rock and roll score (book writer and lyricist George Reinblatt with a number of composers) to the mix. It's a dizzying, but enjoyable ride that, thankfully, never lets the foot off the gas.

Paul Cereghino is wonderfully over the top as Ash, and he delivers a number of of Ash's one-liners and catch phrases with considerable panache. Eileen Engel is good as his love interest, Linda, who not only loses her heart to Ash, but also her head. C.E. Fifer amuses as his foul-mouthed buddy, Scott, and Angela Bubash is properly vacant as the girl he brings along. Fifer and Cereghino are hilarious together once things start to heat up, and do a nice job on "What the F*** Was That?". Anna Skidis (reprising her role from the 2010 production) is an energetic riot as Ash's sister, Cheryl. Once she becomes a "deadite" she's constantly popping in like a Laugh-In character to disrupt the proceedings. Brittany Kohl does solid work as Annie Knowby, the daughter of the Professor who went missing after reading aloud from the Necronomicon; the so-called "Book of the Dead". Michael Wells is a dweeby nebbish as Ed, her boyfriend, but he gets a chance to shine during "Bit-Part Demon". Zachary Stefaniak is also fun as "Good Old Reliable Jake".

Justin Been's direction is very well done, and his cast displays a good sense of comic timing that helps get the barrage of jokes across. Nathan Marshall's scenic design neatly captures the look (and smell) of a pine cabin, Alexandra Scibetta Quigley costumes the cast with aplomb, and Sarah Castelli handles the make-up. Jamie Lynn Marble contributes the "deadite" choreography, and Chris Petersen deftly handles the musical direction. Petersen also plays keyboards in the band with additional support provided by Adam Rugo (guitar/banjo) and Bob McMahon (percussion).

If you like your horror musicals to have an in your face attitude, be sure to check out the "splatter zone" during Stray Dog Theatre's fun production of Evil Dead: The Musical.

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From This Author Chris Gibson