Review: Evil Dead: The Musical

August 1, 2013 at 5:49 pm (comedy, horror, music) (, , )

In my ongoing quest for the Mother of the Year award, I took my 13-year-old and 16-year-old sons to see “Evil Dead: The Musical” at the Balagan Theatre in Seattle. Everybody who’s heard anything about this musical knows that they throw a lot of stage blood around. We were delighted at this prospect. In fact, we paid a little extra to sit in the front row, known as the “Mega-Splatter Zone.” We’re huge fans of the Evil Dead movies. (Yes, I even liked the remake. Shut up.) We’d been listening to the soundtrack from the musical on YouTube and loving it. We were pumped! And we weren’t disappointed.

The Balagan Theatre is small but cozy. When I handed my tickets to a young man in green camo, he eyed my boys and said “You do know about the adult content in this show, right?”

“Oh yes,” I replied. “They’ve seen the movies.”

The camo kid started to look worried. “Well, it’s not gore,” he said. “There’s, um…”

“Yes?” I smiled at him brightly.

“Sex jokes,” he muttered.

What? Sex jokes? What an awful thought! Everyone knows teenage boys don’t like sex jokes! “Thanks for the warning,” I said, trying not to laugh at his “Ermahgerd I said ‘sex’ to somebody’s mom” face. I figured that years of exposure to “South Park” and “Family Guy” had prepared my boys for whatever ED:TM could dish out. Erm… more on that later.

We wandered in and settled into our front-row seats. There was a huge, 3-foot-tall Necronomicon in front of the very basic “cabin in the woods” set. Interesting. The theater had put together a wonderful playlist. We rocked out to Rob Zombie, Sweet, Alice Cooper, and the Ramones. The lights dimmed at last, and…the first few chords of “Sweet Transvestite” blasted from the speakers! WTF? We had no idea, but we loved it. A dude in manties and a corset came out and ROCKED that song. He had an amazing voice—almost what the old folks (not me dammit) call an Irish tenor. Strong, silvery, and flexible. He ended the song by tossing a cup of “blood” on us. Yep, we were in for it now.

It all started out innocently enough. The cast sang the ridiculously chipper opening song, “Cabin in the Woods,” accompanied by a giant bunny and a very rude squirrel. The sets were super lo-fi—a cutout car carried by the singing cast members. It went perfectly with the utterly silly vibe of the show. We were hooked.

The acting was fun. Everybody was on their toes, and the jokes flew. Yep, a lot of them were dopey sex jokes, of the type you’d find in your average American Pie-like movie. Nothing that would cause my little angels to go blind or anything. There were plenty of nods to (and outright quotes from) the first two Evil Dead movies. Plenty of geek fodder for the fanboys and girls out there. Things started to get really silly when Ash’s perky little sister got felt up through the window by an evil tree. This was a rocking bit of physical comedy that just got funnier as it went along.

Things went on as they do in Evil Dead movies, and pretty soon people were turning into Candarian demons, and inanimate objects were talking to the cast. My favorite was a Candarian demon moose head who launched into the delightful song “Join Us.” It was a terrific production number, and by the time it was over, I was ready to show up at my local Candarian demon recruiting office.

The songs were all terrific. (Check them out here.) With the exception of “Frankie,” who later played Good Old Reliable Jake, none of the cast members had really exceptional voices, but it just didn’t matter. They were so enthusiastic and the material was so funny that it all worked. The actor who played Ash did a splendid job of morphing from a meek-seeming housewares employee to one-handed, chainsaw-wielding, boomstick-toting badass.

Around the middle of the play, we found out just how rude it was going to get. Anyone who’s seen the movies knows that the trees in the Evil Dead franchise have a taste for human flesh, and I don’t mean for dinner. They like to sex up hapless wanderers in the woods. I wondered exactly how the production was going to handle THAT.

Well, they handled it with taste and sensitivity. The horny trees were portrayed by a couple of guys in tree suits, with 18-inch rubber dongs hanging off of them. (Proving that this guy was wrong.) Not only did they rock out with their–well, you know, but they used their equipment to gesture, and even communicate. By the time one of the trees was gently bonking Ash on the head to get his attention, we were howling.

About the blood. Whenever a character was hurt or killed, “blood” would spurt from him or her via tube, or sometimes just a squeeze bottle wielded by the victim, which was hilarious. They ratcheted up the gore in the second half of the play. we’re talking super-soakers here. One poor sap got dragged up from the audience and had a bucket of blood poured over his head. The boys and I were sitting pretty in our white (now red) t-shirts and clear plastic safety glasses. Our attire seemed to amuse some of the cast members, who singled us out for extra bloodspray. We left the theater dripping but happy.

Would I recommend this show to everybody? Hell no! If you’re young and tender, or just easily offended by stupid sex jokes, don’t go. If you don’t have a very silly sense of humor, it’s probably not for you. But if you’re an Evil Dead fan who appreciates good music and nonstop laughs, catch ED:TM anywhere you can! It continues to tour the country with a variety of companies, and it shows no sign of slowing down.

Now if only “Re-Animator: The Musical” would come to town…

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