And now for something completely different.
A friend of mine was up for taking in a nice evening at the theatre, so we decided to grab (what was apparently the last two) tickets to Evil Dead: The Musical, which is exactly what it sounds like. It was listed on Salem’s Haunted Happenings Events page, despite taking place in Lynn (and nothing outside of Salem had been listed in previous years). But if it hadn’t been for said listing (and my friend, who explained that Lynn is very close by car), I probably would have written this one off as something that wasn’t worth the trek, and, judging by local theater quality vs. price, I wasn’t expecting anything decent, either.
How wrong I was. Don’t be fooled by its tiny venue (Rantoul Blackbox Theatre), or, once you get there, the tiny stage – this musical was amazing. The fact that the website listed a “Splatter Zone” already sold me (though we spent half the price on perfectly-fine “cheap seats” tickets). Beer and wine and snacks available (I AM JUST STARTING TO LOVE SOMETHING CALLED CHILI CHEESE FRITOS): also a plus. Having to traverse a hallway decorated with cheesy Hallowe’en ceiling props to get to the performance hall: another plus. Having people gawk at my festive makeup (a successful attempt of this): brilliant!
I’m thoroughly ashamed to admit that I had not seen the first two Evil Dead movies. But, thanks to countless pop culture references/parodies and inclusion of that pencil/ankle scene, I was aware of the gist of what had happened. I’d also seen the recent remake as well as the third original instalment Army of Darkness. Still, a fair few jokes flew over my head, but the ones I did get, I tried not to squee all fan-girly over them. And for everything else, I found myself cackling like a loon. It’s that funny.
There’s a lot they can do on that tiny stage, even while playing it close to the source material. One utterly inspired bit of adaption was to have the possessing tree (s) played by actual men, and their comic timing and mannerisms never miss a beat. The singing is top-notch, the casting perfect, and the dry humour is balanced perfectly by the characters squirting toy guns full of fake blood. My only gripes are with some occasional off-key notes, and the vocalists’ volume dropping below the music. Speaking of which, not once did I ever suffer from “oh, god, now a song; can we get back to the story, please?” – the songs were witty and catchy. Here’s my favourite of the evening: