When given the choice between a splash zone or not while purchasing tickets for a musical, it’s usually a sign nothing good is to come.
“Evil Dead the Musical” lived up to that assumption, nothing good was to come.
The show tells the story of five college friends who take a trip to an abandoned cabin in the woods where they find the book of the dead that unleashes a power that turns everyone into a demon, based on the ’80s cult-classic “Evil Dead” (“Evil Dead,” “Evil Dead II,” “Army of Darkness”) films.
While I was sitting in my (non-splatter zone) seat watching the horror unfold, letting out only a few pity chuckles in Act II, I was shocked to hear guffaws around the Broadway Playhouse Theater. I then realized this musical was not for me, nor is it for most. It’s a musical for those that don’t attend the theater, those who willingly show up wearing a garbage bag-like poncho to sit in the front row, those scream like they’re at a rock concert when iconic “Evil Dead” lines are uttered such as “This is my boomstick!” (From “Amy of Darkness”)
Not everything about “Evil Dead” was horrible, just most of it. The relatively young, non-Equity cast all had strong voices, especially Demi Zaino as Cheryl and Andrew Di Rosa as Jake. They made the big production number “Do the Necronomicon” fun and upbeat, one of the few highlights of the show. Highlight being a relative term, because everything else was so terrible. The show is helmed by David Sajewich as Ash, who does a decent job with the material give to him.
“Evil Dead” in film and musical form is parody, never taking itself serious; camp. But the show, especially in its first act falls short of camp, which in its best form should be intelligent and self-referencing. It relies on easy misogynistic jokes, mostly from Creg Sclavi’s character Scott. A running joke throughout Act I is calling Cheryl a stupid bitch, because being rude to women is hilarious. Scott’s weekend hookup Shelly (Callie Johnson) dons a crop top with excessive cleavage, and at one point pulls the shirt down to reveal her bra. For no reason.
Act I continues to be unnecessarily crude, ranging from masturbation jokes to Scott pulling out his intestines which evidently attach to his penis. The humor comes across like it’s by middle school boys, yet I still feel uncomfortable for the middle school-aged boys in the audience.
But Act II does pick up, falling into its campy stride. “Bit Part Demon” and “All the Men in my Life Keep Getting Killed by Candarian Demons” are highlights with their self-aware humor. If the entire show were like this it might be a two-star show. Might.
Before the show ends, a ridiculous zombie showdown between Ash and the rest of the now-evil cast produces all of the necessary fake blood for which the audience was waiting, mostly via blood fountains along the perimeter of the stage.
But I know “Evil Dead the Musical” wasn’t for me. For the audience, who gave the show a standing ovation, this is exactly what they were looking for. For now, I’ll stick to shows that don’t have a splash zone.
“Evil Dead the Musical” runs through Oct. 12 at the Broadway Playhouse Theatre, 175 E. Chestnut St.