If you know me then you know that I’m a connoisseur of oddball musicals. I flew to London to see Jim Steinman’s Whistle Down the Wind, drove up to NYC for the opening night of Coraline: The Musical (music by Magnetic Fields’ Stephin Merritt). I’ve seen Lord of the Rings: The Musical and Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark pre-revamp. And yet I’ve always stayed away from horror movie-inspired musical theater, it’s just too self-aware, too pandering, almost lazy in the way that it kinda writes itself. Thus Evil Dead: The Musical was a very pleasant surprise, a tight little musical that predictably sends up horror movie tropes with a wink and a nod to the obligatory seat-fillers.
I saw the show on a Sunday afternoon, the Prince was maybe half full at the most and a great deal of those in attendance were press people (I only mention this because there has been a lot of Facebook chatter about how empty the performances have been, so I know this is of interest to someone…attendance numbers never reflect either way upon the show itself, of course). As many of you know, the Prince faced bankruptcy for many years, but were able to scrounge up a few million under the leadership of an entirely new (and entirely rich) board of directors and management. It’s amazing, just three years ago I co-organized a Japanese tsunami benefit there and there were literally two employees, I counted 15 on staff at my recent visit. And let’s give them obvious props for choosing such a unique show as their grand reopening event.
Random critical thoughts: The cast was fantastic, someone told me that the guy who played the lead role of Ash was the same actor who originated the role in NYC, I haven’t verified that though. The script was just as I’d imagined, but it was silly fun and the actors were committed enough to the whole thing that I didn’t find myself rolling my eyes or groaning at all. The only real annoyance were the audio problems, lots of mic feedback that resulted in voice levels being hard to hear over the music (I’m 99% sure that they were singing along to pre-recorded music unless they hid the musicians backstage). Also as far as the “splatter zone” goes, we sat in the fourth row and didn’t get a spot of blood on us so if you’re looking to pay that $65 per seat privilege to get covered in red food coloring then be sure to sit in the first three rows of the zone (like the people pictured above did).
So there you go, fun show, wo wo wo.
Evil Dead: The Musical runs through October 20 at the Prince Music Theater, tickets range from $25-65, more details here.