By Ryan McCracken on October 14, 2022.
Who’s ready for some camp at the cabin in the woods?
Medicine Hat Musical Theatre’s production of Evil Dead The Musical premieres tonight at 8 p.m. with its first of nine shows, promising plenty of laughs, a touch of shock value and an overall bloody good time.
Based on Sam Raimi’s cult classic film trilogy, Evil Dead The Musical brings the deadites to life with a dazzling display of dancing demons and enough fake blood to fill a bathtub.
The foreboding cabin in the woods is a character in itself – springing to life in more ways than one while serving as a catalyst for several of the franchise’s most iconic moments.
When outside the cabin’s walls, the set design buys into a less-is-more approach and uses it to great effect, amping up the campiness that made Evil Dead so beloved, while keeping a few new tricks up its sleeves.
Leading the cast into the cabin in the woods is Roy Devore as Ash Williams. Devore reprises the role, bringing his A-game and the chin to back it up, and hitting his highest notes while bringing new meaning to the term “man vs. self.”
While Devore delivers the deep cuts – pun absolutely intended – it’s Tristan Glasier who keeps the audience on its toes as Ash’s little sister, Cheryl. Whether getting on her brother’s nerves, fleeing from fledgling trees or raising an army of Kandarian Demons to do the Necronomicon, there’s never a dull moment when Glasier springs into action.
The remaining cast of demon fodder is filled out by a number of memorable performances.
Allie Kapcala steps into the shoes of Ash’s girlfriend Linda and is at her best when at Linda’s worst.
Nick Kush portrays the brash knucklehead Steve, who provides a memorable belly laugh while sporting a busted gut.
Rob Olson nails his unfinished lines as Ed, making the most out of what ends up being a bit part.
Ryan Holdaway puts his physical comedy on display as good ol’ reliable Jake, and Devon Burdeyney’s Moose helps the scenery chew the cast.
Faith Countryman as Annie and Sarah Latimer as Shelly stand out above the rest with powerful vocal performances in a play so ripe with satire it hardly needs an eloquent aria, yet you’re left wanting more all the same.
This experience, which features a ‘Splatter Zone’ in the first two rows, is promoted as a PG-13 experience. Now, I feel like an old man saying this, but I’d personally slap a hard-R rating onto this play – and not just for the blood.
There certainly no shortage of spatter, but it’s the explicit language and sexual themes that would have me questioning the decision to bring the kids. Make no mistake, this is one of my favourite musicals and I love every last F-bomb in the script – but it ain’t for kids.
Another note on the script. While entirely faithful to the trio of movies starring Bruce Campbell and his imposing chin, a couple of lines which may have seemed more acceptable in the era of the source material, hit the wrong note and feel out of place among some of the more contemporary updates.
That said, the vast majority of the jokes hit just as intended, with all the right callbacks and several surprises, striking a strong balance for a decades-old movie-to-stage adaptation.
Evil Dead The Musical opens tonight at Medicine Hat Musical Theatre, with showings on Oct. 15, Oct. 20-22 and Oct. 26-29.
All performances start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $50, or $65 for the Splatter Zone.
Ryan McCracken is the city editor for the Medicine Hat News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org