Evil Dead: The Musical

Dates and Venue 28 October – 7 November 2009, 8pm (midnight performances on October 30 and 31) | Norman Rothstein Theatre

Director Mark Carter Musical Director Sylvia Zaradic Choreographer Ken Overbey Set Design John Bessette Lighting Darren Hales Costume Design Kenda Ward Sound Designer Andrew Tugwell Make-up Richard Elsom

Reviewer John Jane

It happens frequently in New York City, but in Vancouver having two overlapping productions of the same show has to be unique. Mark Carter and Tanja Dixon-Warren deserve much of the credit for bringing this hilarious local production from Down Stage Right to Vancouver audiences, overcoming the challenge from its more corporate competitor.

Evil Dead - The Musical is a musical tribute more than a serious stage adaptation. Pure camp from the first catchy tune Cabin in the Woods to when the entire cast joins in with the final overdone song, Blew That Bitch Away. In between, the show’s ridiculously over-the-top retelling pays homage not only to Sam Raimi’s original schlocky film, but also an earlier cult gem, The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

The storyline is so well known, it’s almost become irrelevant. A regular guy takes is girlfriend, plus little sister, plus a couple of friends to an abandoned cabin, unearths mysterious book which unleashes ancient evil spirits. Everybody turns into Candarian demons, regular guy survives and becomes reluctant hero saving mankind from said demons.

Scott Walters was brilliantly outrageous as the hapless hero, Ash, as he takes on all those zombies with a chainsaw and shotgun. His routine with his own out-of-control right hand was priceless. His duet with Meghan Anderssen (girlfriend Linda) with Housewares Employee (Perfect Girl) gave us arguably the most ludicrously engaging moment in the show.

Ian Rozylo was forgivably excessive as Ash’s obnoxious buddy. Jennifer Neumann, who spends most of the evening popping up through a trap door, gives a spirited performance as Ash’s sister Cheryl. She is the first to succumb to the evil forces, promulgating “Look who’s evil now!” Meghan Gardiner is superb as Annie (daughter of the missing archaeologist); delightfully camp with her character’s signature song, All The Men In My Life Have Been Killed By Candarian Demons. She acquits herself less well however, with her other role as the seriously obtuse Shelly. Her handling is understated, when for once, subtlety works less well.

There were a few glitches and sticky moments. One of which provided one of the most amusing events of the whole show; when an axe-head flew off its handle into the first row and was promptly thrown back on stage to the surprise of Meghan Gardiner – fortunately, it was only a plastic replica. Other issues were minor, few and far between and generally served as additional fun to a rambunctious audience.

Mark Carter’s lenient direction was just right, giving his actors the opportunity to express their roles with freedom. The show's low production values actually worked for it. The audience are thus encouraged to be participants rather than passive onlookers.

© 2009 John Jane