Evil Dead: The Musical
For Tom’s (belated) birthday celebration, his wife Kelly took him, me, and our friends Amie and Duffy to see a local production of Evil Dead: The Musical. As a long-time fan of the Evil Dead franchise, and their star Bruce Campbell, I was super excited to see this. I was particularly excited about the prospect of getting covered in (fake) blood. I bought a cheap white shirt from the thrift store just for the occasion.
We drove to Marysville, about 30 miles west of Columbus, and had dinner at Benny’s Pizza. Benny’s was absolutely packed. We presumed it was from the All Ohio Balloon Fest that had taken place earlier in the day, but our waitress informed us that Benny’s was always busy. Indeed, she thought the crowd was actually a little small for a Saturday night.
After dinner we drove to Darks Woods, which was basically a farm plot. The signage for the show consisted exclusively of a small sign – like the political signs you see in people’s yards this time of year – bearing the Evil Dead logo. We drove right past it before we realized that was, in fact, our destination. A quick turn around, and we were driving down a long dirt road toward a large, mostly empty parking lot.
The show was scheduled to start “at sundown”, or roughly 9:20. We arrived about 8:30 and were told that the show would begin soon. We had hoped to arrive early enough to get seats in “the splatter zone”, but alas, the venue was nearly full when we arrived. This isn’t saying much, though, as the little clearing in front of the stage only had bench seating for about 100 people. A number of folks had brought their own chairs, and were sitting around the periphery. Luckily we found a vacant bench toward the back so that we could all sit together.
The stage was fairly small, and the lighting was all powered by portable generators. The hum of the generator was a constant background noise throughout the entire production. Around 9:30 the lights dimmed and the actors took the stage. The show opened with a song that set the tone for the entire experience. Throughout the night various actors’ microphones cut out, or got crackly. Most of the performers were able to project even without the mics, but not all of them.
I don’t want to sound overly critical, because I really enjoyed the show. The songs were a lot of fun, the spraying blood was hysterical, and the overall show was perfectly campy. The actor who played Ash, though, couldn’t hold a tune. To be fair, he sang a lot better than I could, but even my mostly tune-deaf hear could tell he was way off on many of his songs. Several of the actors goofed their lines a couple times, which was surprising as this was the last night of the show’s run. I’d’ve expected them to have it down pat by this point.
During intermission, Tom summarized the experience pretty well: the best high school production he’d ever seen.
The actual production was extremely well done. The main set on the stage was the cabin in the woods, in which most of the action took place. In a number of strategic points in the stage – a corner of the table, a spot in the door frame – were hidden small nozzles from which blood would erupt. When a demon would be shot by the door, the nozzle in the door frame would eject a spray of blood, splattering the audience in that section. The timing was mostly good on these, and the overall effect was extremely entertaining.
For the scenes in the woods, a curtain was drawn across the front of the stage. This curtain was covered in camouflage netting. The particularly clever thing was that it was drawn or pulled back by a guy in a ghillie suit that almost perfectly blended in with the curtain itself. This was a great touch, and always made the audience laugh during set changes.
This was clearly a low-budget production, but they did a lot with their limited resources. I’m really glad we attended. Despite the less-than-stellar performances and the technical challenges, it was a lot of fun! If you ever get the opportunity to see Evil Dead: The Musical, I highly recommend it!