Evil Dead The Musical: A Bloody Good Time
Murder can be merry and demons can be delightfully dreadful. That’s verified by the Onyx Theatre’s January production of EDTM (playing weekends through January 28).
The intimate theater makes for an interactive experience for the entire audience. That means you’re in a small space with a big cast that doesn’t mind getting messy.
Based on all three Evil Dead films (the last, Army of Darkness, is quoted a lot) it’s set in a cabin in the woods and the forest outside. Five college students break in hoping to have a drinking and groping good time. Well, four of them, anyway.
Lead happy camper is Ash (Ben Stobber) along with girlfriend Linda (Sarah Willick), friends Scott (Brian Roark) and the ditzy Shelley (Nicole Unger) and nerdy sister Cheryl (Lorie Palkow).
Demons soon come a-callin’ and a-possessin’ until the floor, the cellar and a tabletop hold evidence of the evil and the dead. Hey, that’s the title, so I guess it all makes sense.
The show is long, over two hours of song and splatter, so there’s a fifteen minute intermission for folks to visit the concession stand or the bathroom before being cautioned to stay in their seats for everyone’s safety. The cast of demons and “deadites” as they are called are free to roam and frequently do. The blood flies often (and outward).
If you’re sitting in the first three rows, known as the Splatter Zone, here’s some advice: Either put on the T-shirts that are handed out at the beginning of the show or wear something old, or at least red. Do not show up in a fancy hairdo. Do not expect to stay dry.
Incorporating strobe lights, fog machines, singing and dancing, and dead folk wearing ill-concealed backpack tanks that squirt fruit-flavored “blood” 3-5 feet into the audience, the players command the small space, stage and aisles both, so that those in the back can share in the carnage. No one is safe.
Standouts performances by Ben Stobber, John Tomasello, Brian "Mickey" Roark, and Lorie Palkow are augmented by the talented Sarah Willick and versatile Nicole Unger in a double role – she’s also Annie, the comically overacting daughter of the long-deceased professor who owns the cabin. Don’t worry; you’ll meet him, too.
Stobber carries the production with his over-the-top performance channeling the iconic Bruce Campbell and battling talking moose heads, decapitated girlfriends and his own severed hand. Yes, he affixes a chainsaw to the stump and carries a sawed-off shotgun. Yes, he calls it his “boom stick” and refers to himself as “good, bad, I’m the guy with the gun.” The audience joins him in these popular recitations and there are lots more. Fans of the films will definitely get roped into the fun.
You can make donations to the volunteer cast and crew via Starving Artist Fund jars located in the lobby after the show (optional but encouraged).
Director Sirc Michaels greets the audience with a high-energy, expletive-filled exhortation that “you don’t know what you’re in for.” His actors go wild in a show full of campy puns and hilarious self-awareness. My one comment is that perhaps it runs on a little too long for the confinement factor (small space, narrow seats and lots of big asses filling them. This IS the land of buffets, you know).
From the Program: “The Onyx Theatre is Las Vegas' leading alternative and performance space for world-class and local artists. It is dedicated to personal artistic expression, free minds, unrestrained entertainment, and socially relevant art.”
Future Onyx musicals include those based on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Moby Dick.
Bet on getting wet yet again.
For further Information:
The Onyx Theatre
953 E. Sahara Ave
Las Vegas, Nevada 89104