Evil Dead: A bloody good musical romp
Special to Prospector
Were you a fan of the scary “Evil Dead” movie trilogy during the ‘80s and ‘90s? Me neither. But Synthetic Unlimited’s hilarious Grass Valley production of zombies and blood, “Evil Dead: The Musical,” is the complete opposite — campy, funny, slapstick, musical, visual, and a very fun evening of college hormones and humor. Reminiscent of the “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” and parodying the original “Evil Dead” movies, “The Musical” was written by George Reinblatt, premiered in Canada in 2003, then opened off-Broadway in 2006.
To be honest, I had trepidations about attending the play since I hate horror movies — taunting older brothers, you know? Turns out I wasn’t scared. Humorously grossed out several times, but never really scared (okay, maybe creeped out a few times). But mostly wildly laughing or shrieking “oh no.” What else can you do when a female character deadpans a ballad titled “All the Men in My Life Keep Getting Killed by Candarian Demons,” and others sing “What the F—- Was That?” Yes, there are a lot of adult words and some situations, but nothing your 14-year-olds don’t already know — and they will love you for bringing them to the show. Just decide before you take your seat whether you want to sit in the “splash zone,” which is clearly marked, as the fake blood sprays freely in that area.
Briefly, five hormonal college students go to a cabin in the woods for a short vacation and accidentally unleash evil demons, which possess the students, one at a time. But even with a morbid and creepy story line, this is not a production that is to be taken seriously, what with all the jumping, rolling, fighting, crawling and even Tangoing going on, and because all of the actors contribute agile movement, fine singing, funny sass and wonderful snarky comments that kept the audience almost continuously laughing.
The Synthetic Unlimited Opera House, on Joerschke Drive, was previously a muffler shop, so the production team has a lot of flexibility in their staging and seating arrangements. For this play, the audience is placed on two sides of the set (in new and comfy chairs), forcing the actors to work ‘in the round,’ a visually stimulating effect for the audience. Director Camen Hodges nicely uses the set and available space and keeps his actors moving, dancing and singing so that the production literally sprints past. The set, designed by Pam Hodges, along with the props by Shawnna Frazer, are excellent for creating an ominous tone as well as denoting the inside of the cabin and the woods outside. The many other creative touches, such as the blood and prosthetics, choreography (both dance and fight), lighting, costumes, chainsaw, moose head and more immensely add to the quality, creepiness and humor.
This is one of those “once in a life-time” strange and hilarious experiences — even for horror phobics. If you enjoy comedy, movement, music and lots of blood, make sure you catch “Evil Dead: The Musical,” running until Nov. 9th (with a midnight show on Halloween).
Hindi Greenberg picked a seat as far from the “splash zone” as possible. But if you’re a horror genre aficionado, be sure to arrive early and grab a seat in the front row to experience the deluge of blood and guts. In fact, wear a white T-shirt for full effect!
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