There are things about “Evil Dead: The Musical” that people need to know before venturing to Tacoma Little Theatre to watch it.
It is a parody of bad horror movies, specifically of one of the cheesiest of all time, the 1981 film of the same name written and directed by Sam Raimi. Called “Gross out collegiate humor” by director Niclas Olson, “Evil Dead” is quickly becoming a cult musical. TLT artistic director Chris Serface said it has a “Rocky Horror level following.”
Opening night, the theater was filled with boisterous younger-than-usual patrons, some of whom wore bright yellow “Evil Dead” T-shirts. There are splash zones on either side of the stage complete with transparent plastic poncho-type rain gear and goggles. The splatter zone seats were sold out and are close to sold out for the run of the show.
The play is replete with exaggerated blood and gore on the level of the black knight fight scene in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”
Typical of bad horror movies, the thin plot involves a group of five college students on a weekend trip to a cabin in the woods which is protected by trees and a bridge that suddenly becomes impassable once the students cross it, and the cabin is invaded by zombies.
The students are Ash the hero (Zachary Edson), his girlfriend Linda (Ashley Roy), a drunken, loud and obnoxious friend named Scott (Guy Taylor Simpson III), his girlfriend Shelly (Annelise Martin, who doubles as Annie), and Ash’s meek little sister, Cheryl (Molly Quinn). Odd and comically frightening characters who show up later are a “bit-part demon” named Ed (Aleks Merilo) and Jake (Eric Strachan).
For the first 10 or 15 minutes, the play is as dumb as the movies it makes fun of; yet the opening night audience was howling at the sophomoric comic bits. Then it began to get funnier and funnier, beginning with Strachan, Martin and Merilo singing “Good Old Reliable Jake,” and from that point on it is insanely hilarious.
The set by the inimitable Blake York is terrific, from the blank off-white curtain to the interior of the cabin with its silly mounted moose head to the projected Star Wars-style fast rush through the woods to the many detached and animated body parts.
Most of the seven cast members are new to South Sound stages and have never performed at TLT. Let us hope they will soon become regulars at area theaters. There is a huge amount of talent here.
Edson’s mock heroics are great, especially when he strikes poses with chain saws and other implements of destruction held high. Quinn shows great acting talent as she morphs from a whimpering misfit to an evil zombie. Simpson’s wide-ranging expressions and loose-limbed movements are outstanding. And the rocking music throughout is infectious.
Anyone who can take comical excesses of blood and gore and loud audience reaction should love TLT’s performance of “Evil Dead: The Musical.”
“Evil Dead: The Musical”
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, through Nov. 10
Where: Tacoma Little Theatre, 210 N. I St., Tacoma