In a year filled with several amazing shows from some of Windsor’s best theatrical producers, Extension-Korda takes the bloody-covered intestinal cake. Their production of Evil Dead: The Musical is hands down the best show of the year, slaughtering everything in its path. The horror-comedy-musical based on the Evil Dead movie franchise is stunning audiences with heavy doses of blood, guts and humour until July 22 at Kordazone Theatre.
But really, what else would you expect from a play that flaunts its own “Splatter Zone” where a section of the audience might get covered in stage blood.
At first, the idea of a musical based on the Evil Dead movie franchise is something that seems like an absurd and almost laughable concept, but somehow audiences around North America have taken to the 2003 musical adaptation and it’s quickly becoming the new cult favourite. It’s probably because you don’t need to be a fan of Evil Dead or even horror films to love this show – all it takes is the ability to laugh. And with the combination of blood, jokes, cheesy effects, and some funny musical numbers, Evil Dead: The Musical is unlike any live show you’ll ever see.
The story borrows from Evil Dead, Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness, telling the asinine tale of five college students who go to an abandoned cabin in the woods. They play a tape left behind by the cabin’s archaeologist owner and an incantation recorded on it summons sleeping Candarian demons that stalk the students and possess their dead bodies one at a time. Ash (Dalton Mugridge) is bitten on the hand, so that only his hand is possessed. As blood spews, he cuts it off with a chain saw, which he then attaches to his stump, becoming the hero of the show.
The show is filled with gallons of blood, several lost limbs, severed heads, strands of intestines and nearly everyone becomes a demon zombie at some point. But as gross and horrible as that sounds, it’s bloody funny. Both perversely campy and delightfully entertaining in the same breath, its closest comparison is The Rocky Horror Show. What Rocky is to sex, Evil Dead is to horror.
It begins with Cabin In The Woods, a cheesy upbeat song where the gang making their way to the stage in a prop car (think Grease at this point), but things quickly turn to outlandish by the fourth song when Cheryl (Jessie Gurniak) and Shelly (Gemma Cunial) reveal they are demons with the song Look Who’s Evil Now. Ash and Scott (Zephyr), shocked by the horror, break out in the most popular song from the show – What the F**k was That? From this point on, the play moves from pretty funny to absolutely hilarious and the audience laughs are as loud as the music itself.
Short of adding more blood to the “Splatter Zone” and boosting more volume and vocal mix to the songs, this production was perfect. Mugridge lead his way through the entire production, but gave way as each performer had their moment to shine, including Ed (Joey Wright), the bit-part demon.
All the women in the cast were comical, powerful and sexy (if Zombies are your thing), but Gurniak, who spent most of her time flipping the basement door up and down, got to crack the most jokes in the production. Amber Thibert was also fun to watch as Ash’s girlfriend Linda, with Cunial having a little fun with Shelly’s trampiness.
After the initial cast dies off, the show introduces additional characters who make their way to the cabin: Ed (Wright), Allison Grieco (who accidentally loses parts of her clothing throughout her appearance) and Sean Westlake as the extremely funny hick Jake. Westlake had the audience cheering as he sang his way through Good Old Reliable Jake with lyrics like “Who was the inspiration for the Shamrock Shake, it`s good old reliable Jake.”
Hats off to the entire production team for pulling off a musical production that includes a dancing set, a singing moose, gallons of fake blood, a chainsaw that spits said blood, a gun that actually shoots out said blood and the overall coordination to make sure severed heads and hands appear at the correct time.
It should be noted that Evil Dead isn’t for everyone because of heavy doses of violence and language, but honestly, why would anyone attend a musical play called Evil Dead and not expect it. Take it as the campy tribute to old horror movies that it is and you’ll have the time of your life.
For more information, visit Korda Theatre.