The cult-classic horror/comedy musical dazzles Toronto audiences again
Currently touring across North America, Evil Dead: The Musical is currently on its stop in Toronto. This marks a triumphant return to the city in which the musical first debuted in 2003, and it’s hardly slowed down since. As much fun as I had at this show, it makes me wonder if my job as a theatre critic isn’t a wee bit redundant. I am supposed to unpack this production, and explain its quality in layman’s terms, and whether you, dear readers, should see it. The thing is, this show speaks pretty well for itself.
If, by chance, you’ve never heard of the horror/comedy franchise upon which this show is based, a title like Evil Dead: The Musical is a, well… dead giveaway about what you’re in for. If that isn’t enough, walking into the theatre and seeing “splash zone” seats marked off with industrial plastic wrap certainly sends a message. And that message is “don’t wear your Sunday best to this show”.
Just like the five college friends spending the night in a spooky cabin, nothing about this show is safe, and that is precisely why it works. It is loud, wacky, raunchy, and gleefully pushes the limits of what can be done — or gotten away with — on the stage. Although this show is on at the Randolph Theatre, a venue housed within a former church, it would be unwise to expect any sanctity here.
If I had to describe this show in two words, it would probably be “delayed gratification”. It takes a while for the blood to really start flying, and the musical numbers in the second act have more energy than the first. However, the writing is sharp and unapologetic throughout and the cast are clearly having as much fun performing this show as we are watching it.
Trent Mills has a fresh take on the role of Ash, choosing to not wholesale copy Bruce Campbell‘s performance from the films, but still conveying the character’s charm and ferocity, and his character development from naive college kid to hardened and bloodied jerk feels believable. He also gets to show-off his talent for physical performance with schticks like fighting his own hand and slaying a mob of demons.
He and the rest of the cast also have lots of toys to play with, given the sheer excellence of the stage design, fight choreography and special effects. In an era where entertainment is dominated by CGI, I find myself all the more an advocate for practical effects, and this show does not disappoint on such a front. I must take my hat off to Martin Mantha, credited as the Head Carpenter and Blood Effects co-coordinator for this show. The Special FX team, consisting of Scott Patterson and Marina Snider, also have an enviable job. Not everyone can put severed heads, intestines and sentient hands into their portfolio. Although this production plays the gore for laughs rather than shock, they succeed at making the setting a character unto itself. Without the infamous cabin, and all the blood and guts that fly within its walls, it just wouldn’t be Evil Dead.
If you are looking for a chance to attend more live theatre in Toronto, Evil Dead: The Musical is a terrific place to start. This production is a gut-buster from start to finish, with some heart to go along with all its blood and gore.
- Evil Dead: The Musical performs at the Randolph Theatre (736 Bathurst St) until November 19, 2017.
- Performances are Thursdays to Sundays with showtimes at 2:00 pm, 7:00 pm and 10:30 pm.
- Tickets Range from $39.95 – $89.95
- Tickets can be purchased online, or at the Randolph Theatre box office. However, as this show is highly in demand, advance purchase is advised.
- The show runs approximately 2 hours with a 20-minute intermission.
- Audience Advisory: This production uses fog machines, strobe lights, gunshots, and a staggering quantity of fake blood. Recommended for ages 12+.
Image provided by Starvox Entertainment