Drop Dead Funny: EVIL DEAD: THE MUSICAL

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Photo credit: Josh Nunes/ www.natlightphotography.com; the cast, feeling groovy.

Book and Lyrics by George Reinblatt
Music by Frank Cipolla, Christopher Bond, Melissa Morris, George Reinblatt
Music Supervision by Frank Cipolla
Additional Lyrics by Christopher Bond Additional Music by Rob Daleman

Director – Corey Jackson
Music Director – Mario Cruz
Choreographer – Nicole Spirito

presented by Arts After Hours
LynnArts
25 Exchange Street
Lynn, MA
October 18th – October 28th, 2012

Arts After Hours Facebook Page

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Lynn) You know you’re in for something different with the Art After Hours production of Evil Dead: the Musical when you are given the option of sitting in the splatter zone with a poncho. The Sound of Music, this ain’t, but if you’re in the mood for a well- timed comedy that is side-splitting in more ways than one, this weird and bloody romp is for you.

The musical is based on a strange series of campy films created by director Sam Raimi in his pre-Spiderman days. The story revolves around one slacker’s quest to escape the half-demons/half-zombies that have been accidentally unleashed by the discovery of an ancient book of the dead, written in blood, natch. The film series became a cult classic in its weirdness, its inconsistencies, and its overtly macho lead character, Ash.

But this production is even better, if only because it’s that same weirdness set to tight pop songs. Picture a play that combines the rock sensibilities of Grease, the winking silliness of Scream and the comedic timing of Saturday Night Live on good cocaine and stick it in a blender with some red food coloring.

The play follows the typical cabin-in-the-woods scenario, with a group of college slackers breaking into a deserted cottage and stumbling upon the Necronomicon, an evil book that can unleash the forces of the…ahem…Deadites. Of course, the zany kids unleash said force and soon everyone but Ash (Dave Carney) is turned into an evil smart-ass demon. The entrails start flying, and every inch of the killer
set gets in on the act. Soon not even the non-splatter zones are safe.

Though the play doesn’t spare the gross, this isn’t really a haunted house attraction. In fact, if there can be one complaint of the production, it’s that it dispels the danger too quickly with humor. But the humor is worth the loss of a few chills down your spine.

It is strangely believable to watch Ash come unhinged, and Dave Carney easily devolves his character into a clueless Rambo without winking too much at the audience. Mel Hardy also shines as Cheryl, the goody-too-shoes tag-along of the group who quickly transforms into a painfully vaudevillian demon. With her
purposely terrible timing and raspy voice, it was as if this wisp of a girl was made to tread the floorboards with a cigar in her mouth. Jeff Mahoney deserves special kudos for his backwoods character of Jake, whose profane wisecracking saves the play from becoming too repetitive in the second act.

The music is the most pleasant surprise of the night. Not only does it provide the weirdest moments of the play, with titles like “All the Men in My Life Keep Getting Killed by Candarian Demons,” “Ode to an Accidental Stabbing” and others we can’t print here, but the cast and band showcase killer chops and timing that make the music memorable for more than being just funny. One hopes Arts After Hours can invest in better mikes in the future to help us catch every word.

Risk life and limb to come see this play. You will never feel safe at a musical again.

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