Blood, gore, she-bitches and zombies. And more blood.
It might seem challenging to bring back a cult classic as popular as Evil Dead: The Musical and keep it fresh, but Hit & Myth productions and the Pumphouse Theatre have it covered.
“It’s the kind of show you bring someone who never comes to theatre to, and they have a ride like they’ve never had before,” says Hit & Myth artistic producer Joel Cochrane. “This show has it all — blood, catchy songs and funny jokes.”
Although it features a completely new cast, the production — based on Sam Raimi’s film about four friends who break into a haunted cabin during a weekend getaway — retains all the memorable bits from the first go-round — including the humorous one-liners delivered by beloved “good-bad” guy Ashley “Ash” J. Williams (played by Bart Kwiatkowski) and the unforgettable scene featuring a possessed hand and a chainsaw.
Pumphouse Theatre executive director Scott McTavish says he’s excited to have the show appear at the theatre during the venue’s 100th anniversary, especially since he missed the production the first time around.
“I started hearing all of the buzz about how incredible the show was, and I was crushed that I was never able to get to see it,” says McTavish. “So imagine how excited I was when Joel approached me about partnering to remount the show here at the Pumphouse.”
Despite the popularity of the show here three years ago, Cochrane wasn’t sure what kind of reception they would receive with an end-of-summer run during the theatrical off-season. But after selling out the “splatter zone” (the first three rows, where patrons are most likely to get soaked with the fake bodily detritus from the stage) within the first week and a half of tickets being on sale, the show was extended for two more weeks.
“It proves to us that with the right kind of show, you can do a project in August, which is typically a dead zone for theatre,” says Cochrane. “We thought that was kind of cool, but I’m pretty sure we won’t be bringing it back again, this will be the final chance.”
Since it’s the third time Cochrane and the crew have produced the show (including a run in Vancouver), he says they’re more than prepared.
“You still have the regular challenges of it being a musical, and needing the singing components, the dancing components and the acting, of course. You have to make sure you re-create the same special effects,” he says. “But I think we know now what we need and we can try some new things.”
Cochrane says even if people have watched the show more than once, there will be many new elements to keep them interested — including the new cast.
“I think it gives a new dynamic and a different feel and sound with different singers. But, there will still be the familiar things that people love and what they come for. But it’s not going to be any less wild than the last show. It’s a great cast and they really rip it up out there.”