“The hills are alive with…” No…Wait…it’s the trees. “Of COURSE they’re alive! They are autotrophic organisms. Is now the time for a science lesson?” Evil Dead: The Musical is a lesson on how to make a smart, bloody, high-energy musical that Von Trumps the original show, already a bloody cabin in the woods good time.
Speaking of trees, Ash fans old and new will be blown away by the production, and the show might produce a few converts too.
The production stays true to Sam Raimi’s cinematic vision while adding extra cheek. And a hand. And ears. Frank Cipolla’s tunes are mostly memorable, especially the insanely hum-along ear-worm “Cabin in the Woods” (yeah yeah), “What the F*ck was That?”, “All the Men in My Life Keep Getting Killed by Candarian Demons”, “Do the Necronomicon” and the touching standout, “Good Old Reliable Jake”.
Michelle Nash channels Lea Michele as sporty Linda. Matt Willis brings grace and guffaws to lumbering hick Jake (not Jack). Andy Ingram fought hilariously with non-adhesive Deadite makeup as a game Ed, and Merritt Crews summons sass in spades in two roles, first as the ditzy Shelly and then Annie. But of course it’s Trent Mills as Ash on whose broad shoulders the boomstick must be carried. He’s a shotgun blast of dynamite here.
The New York Times called it “the next Rocky Horror,” but since they’re “all the news that’s fit to print” and not “all the heady / fun genre film reviews fit to print,” (or at least upload) we prefer to think of it as “the next Phantom of the Paradise – with jokes.” Besides, that’s the superior unsung horror musical that makes chump meat out of Brad and Janet.
But dammit, we’re talking about Evil Dead: The Musical here. And there’s a surfeit of wit, gobs of blood, cool choreography and joy here to whet any appetite. Go see it while you can. It’s playing until the end of February.