Evil Dead: The Musical
Halloween for grownups
by Sally Mitani
I've got nothing against kids, exactly, but they do seem to be gaining ascendancy over the darker months of the year. They've already got Thanksgiving and Christmas/Hanukkah, the original family-values holidays, sewn up. We've empowered them to run extortion rackets in our own neighborhoods on Halloween. And still, their quest for dominance knows no bounds--witness the proliferating number of kid-centered events around Halloween and, increasingly, New Year.
Some indubitable and, in fact, indelible adult entertainment is being offered for the third year in a row by the Dexter Community Players, who are reprising Evil Dead: The Musical. It began life as a trio of low-budget flicks directed by Sam Raimi (Spiderman) but without getting all needlessly academic, let's just say if he hadn't invented it, someone else would have had to, because you can only sit through the Rocky Horror Picture Show so many times. And Evil Dead: The Musical is live: Blood and body parts fly around Copeland Auditorium. Somehow, a cannon was actually employed last year--and it was directed at the audience. How and why, I can no longer remember, but it's in my notes. Also, in somewhat less polite verbiage--less polite verbiage being the tone of the evening--I noted that if you sit in the front you will surely get soaked, and, even if you sit in the back, no one's making any promises.
Blood cannons are not the adult part--kids would love that. Children under sixteen are not admitted without an adult because of songs like "What the **** Was That!"--I'm using stars, though the program doesn't. If you repeat that phrase out loud, you'll realize that it has an infectious tango-like beat, and that's exactly what the song is: a tango performed by two men, holding each other in fright as they creep and spin around the room trying to identify a sinister sound.
The cast is largely returning from last year. Often it's character actors who shine in community theater, but here it's
the leads: Ash is played to Dudley Do-Right perfection by the handsome, lantern-jawed Peter Crist, and Stacey Smith, as Cheryl, knows how to sing and look an audience in the eye. I'm not a scholar of the low-budget horror genre, and you don't need to be, but when I saw it last year, I was glad to be sitting next to a couple who were: they extracted an extra percentage of fun out of this production for me by passing on whispered in-jokes and allusions, like what a "Fake Shemp" is.
Language and plot are delightfully unedited for children, the prim, the pious, the intellectually needy, or anyone else in the special-theater-needs department. Evil Dead: The Musical runs Oct. 25, 26, & 31 and Nov. 1 & 2 at Copeland Auditorium in Dexter.
[Originally published in October, 2013.]