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THEATER REVIEW: “Evil Dead: The Musical” at the Randolph Theatre in Toronto, CA

A Note From Rachel: Earlier this week, while I was prepping for the opening of NaNoWriMo 2013, my friend Sheilah O’Connor went to the opening night of Toronto’s latest run of Evil Dead: The Musical. Here’s her review of the current production of this cult hit.

 

Evil Dead: The Musical. Ryan Ward and Laura Tremblay. Photo by David Hou.

Evil Dead: The Musical. Ryan Ward and Laura Tremblay. Photo by David Hou.

Evil Dead: The Musical
The Randolph Theatre, Toronto, Canada
Reviewed by Sheilah O’Connor

When Thomas Wolfe said you can’t go home again, he clearly was not thinking of Evil Dead: the Musical which has returned for the third time to the city in which it was created. Toronto also welcomed back Ryan Ward who originated the role of Ash, and cowriter/director Christopher Bond.

I didn’t know much about Evil Dead: the Musical beyond the fact that it was based on movies and has a “splatter zone”. It turns out, that didn’t much matter. While there were a few moments that were clearly set up for fans of the Evil Dead franchise, the musical was very accessible to anyone who appreciates a lively, corny romp.

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Evil Dead: The Musical – Laura Tremblay, Alison Smyth, Ryan Ward, Margaret Thompson, Rodrigo Fernandez-Stoll. Photo by David Hou.

The actors are all excellent in their roles, able to act, sing and dance. While Ryan Ward is a natural, given his long history with the production, Alyson Smyth is a standout, able to move easily from annoying younger sister to evil punning demon. Daniel Williston was an unexpected surprise. Much lighter on his feet than seems likely when he first appears, his song Good Old Reliable Jake was a clear homage to Meatloaf in The Rocky Horror Picture Show and his ballet moves later brought down the house.

In fact, many things brought down the house. The audience cheered as the production began and frequently thereafter. The beer that could be brought to the seats perhaps played a small part in that but this was a crowd ready to have a good time and the actors clearly fed off the excitement.

It was a relatively small stage so good use is made of lighting and the occasional backdrop. The infamous “Splatter Zone” where audience members get coated in blood was, I’m told, expanded and to ensure that everyone got their fair share, blood rained down from the ceiling as well as from the stage.

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With so many things done right, it was disappointing that the music so often drowned out the singing unless the actors were facing the audience. Since the music runs from tangos to 1950’s do-wop, it’s crucial to get the full effect, and we didn’t. This was opening night though. Now that they have a theatre full of bodies to test the sound with, I expect it will improve quickly.
Evil Dead: The Musical runs through Dec. 22, 2013 at the Randolph Theatre in Toronto before moving on to other cities. The cast recording is available on Spotify. Photos courtesy of rockitpromo