Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Show and Tell: Evil Dead...With Music...In A Church!

Most Evil Dead fans are probably already familiar with the musical stage version that debuted Off-Broadway in the mid 2000s.  I was always bummed that I never got to check it out, so I was surprised and damn excited to find out that an acting group in my area called Bootless Stageworks was doing a limited run of their own.

Just having the chance to see Evil Dead: The Musical is already a treat, but I knew when I showed up at the entrance of this show it was going to be something special.  The picture below should give an indication as to why:

That's right.  I got to see an expletive-filled gorefest in the basement of a church.  Before the show, a representative from the company addressed that particular elephant in the room, explaining that the church was a new location for the group, and that the pastor had already seen and loved the show.

After having seen it myself, I can see why.  It was campy, low-budget even by horror standards, and it had terrible dialogue.  Here's the thing though:  all of those factors worked in its favor.  Any show called Evil Dead: The Musical would be foolish to take itself too seriously.  So, Bootless Delaware was smart in that they did the exact opposite of that by playfully poking fun at the source material and even at horror tropes in general throughout the show.

What's more, they didn't try to emulate the tone of the movies.  It definitely leans more toward comedy than horror (even more so than Army of Darkness).  And they make a very wise choice in having Ash play more like a typical Broadway hero than the anti-hero perfected by Bruce Campbell.  Hearing some of Ash's more iconic lines delivered sincerely rather than through 7 layers of sarcasm was actually kind of jarring, but I liked it too.

Then, of course, there's the gore.  You can't think about doing anything with Evil Dead in the title unless you're willing to have blood flow.  In this case, blood didn't flow so much as it literally showered.  Initially, I was disappointed to find out that they were out of tickets for the Pit area, where spectators are warned that they would definitely be splattered.  I was actually relieved to merely view the effects though, when I realized that they had literally rigged sprinklers over the audience set to spray them with red water for a good five minutes during the finale.  It was almost to practical joke levels, which was hilarious considering I wasn't the one being doused.

Unfortunately, the run of Evil Dead is done so even if you're in the area it's too late to catch this particular show.  However, Bootless Stageworks has a schedule lined up all the way through summer of 2016, including a Musical of the Living Dead planned for next July.  I think it's important, though, to find these little gems close to where you live.  The horror community can be found pretty much anywhere, and I've found that horror is better-enjoyed when you have people around you who get it and can experience it with you.  If nothing else, maybe you'll be able to see someone get soaked in stage blood.

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