October 29th; a cold, dark evening just hours away from Devil’s Night. We are standing in downtown Toronto in front of the Randolph Theatre on Bathurst, eagerly awaiting the opening night performance of Evil Dead: The Musical. As theatre buffs and horror connoisseurs alike rush to find their seats (the most daring sit in the infamous splatter zone) the lights dim and the crowd erupts in applause. One thing is clear: Ash and his ever-resilient flock of Deadites have returned to the Toronto stage, and it’s about to get messy.
A rousing ensemble number kicks off the production (appropriately titled “Cabin in the Woods”) as Ash and his companions drive to the middle of nowhere for a spring-break they won’t soon forget! The tongue-in-cheek set design perfectly captures the essence of the films; a blend between camp, silliness, and when required, atmospheric horror. Fans of the film already know the characters in-and-out, but for those first-timers the characters’ roles are defined and developed quickly and thoroughly before the end of the first song. It’s this type of fast-paced energy and clever writing that sets the tone for the entire musical.
It’s easy to lose yourself in the zany, colourful, and off-the-wall story; the brief intermission at the one-hour mark arrives before you know it. But for the ravenous gorehounds that find themselves asking: where was all the splatter?, worry not! The second act will leave you satisfied and drenched in the red stuff.
Evil Dead: The Musical works so well because it was clearly written by a fan of the films and remains faithful to the spirit of the original movie. Its self-aware moments (which lovingly poke fun at creator Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell, and the inconsistencies in the movie that we horror fans love to discuss) are reassuring reminders that this is a production from a true horror enthusiast who is well acquainted with the source material. (And for those not familiar with Christopher Bond’s work, his more recent Night of the Living Dead: Live was equally as successful and thoroughly enjoyed).
Ryan Ward shone in his portrayal of Ash, displaying a keen sense of Bruce Campbell’s mannerisms and speech pattern, while at the same time bringing his own dramatic flair to the role. The cast is equally talented, delivering pitch-perfect performances while tackling some truly well-choreographed and satisfying routines. Also, special care was taken to ensure that iconic scenes and lines of dialogue from the Evil Dead series was recreated — each time being met with rousing applause from the audience. One thing is certain: you won’t leave disappointed.
Evil Dead: The Musical is a bloody good time that can’t be missed! For more information and to purchase tickets, visit their website: http://evildeadthemusical.com/toronto/tickets/