Song, dance and splatter: horror-comedy Evil Dead: The Musical makes Whitehorse debut
Joel Krahn/Yukon News
Five college students break into a cabin hoping for a nice getaway weekend only to accidentally release malefic demons out to dismember humans — what people would consider a bad start to a weekend.
What ensues is a fight for their lives, punctuated by singing, dancing and some occasional bloodletting.
Evil Dead: The Musical is making its Whitehorse debut at the Guild this week.
The play, written in the early 2000s by George Reinblatt, was an instant hit and received glowing reviews. By 2008, the show had played more than 300 times, The Toronto Star reported, including in New York, Toronto and Montreal.
Loosely based on Sam Raimi’s 1980s Evil Dead trilogy of films, the play mixes horror and comedy.
“One of my goals was to scare the shit out of people, but it is so campy,” said Brian Fidler, the Guild’s artistic director and play director. “They’re super campy and over the top.”
Fidler praised his cast, who’ve been rehearsing at a breathtaking pace of four hours a day, six days a week for the past month and a half.
“They’re a strong cast of singers, actors and dancers,” he said. “It’s a good group of people who enjoy each other’s company.”
Even the read-through, when the cast reads the script together for the first time, was memorable.
“If we could have brought an audience to watch that read-through they would have really enjoyed it,” Fidler said. “The actors were having such a good time with reading this hilarious script.”
Joel Krahn/Yukon News
The show is intended for a mature audience as it features a bit of violence.
“There is gratuitous violence, bad language and mature themes,” Fidler said. “Two of the characters have a song called ‘What the fuck was that?’ — that gives you an idea.”
Working on the play has been a good experience, Fidler said, remembering the first time the cast practiced their quick costume changes.
“It was a real shock,” he said. “They came out and had completely different looks.”
Anyone who has seen Evil Dead II will remember the scene where Bruce Campbell, playing Ashley ‘Ash’ Williams, gets hosed by a fire hydrant-like torrent of blood.
There will be blood during the play, Fidler said, but the audience shouldn’t be worried.
“We’re not going to hose the audience,” he said. “(But) they might get a spattering of blood, especially the first two rows.”
And while the cast uses tools they’ve dubbed “blood cannons,” those are never aimed at the audience, Fidler said.
Working with fake blood on the scene had its share of challenges. At one point a crew member was explaining how to use a blood-splattering accessory when it blew up in her face.
And Fidler isn’t simply proud of his cast, or the script he picked, but the set too.
Renowned snow carver Donald Watt, who also builds stages in his spare time, designed the set. What the audience sees is a cross-section of an actual cabin, which even includes a fireplace.
“We bring the cabin to life,” he said. “We had to construct it in a way so it could appear to be possessed.”
And Whitehorse bagel enthusiast Adrian Burrill custom-made drinking glasses for the actors to break.
“You’re (basically) making candy that shatters,” he told the News.
Burrill cooked sugar, corn syrup and water together until all the water is gone. The resulting liquid is poured in a mold — slowly to avoid air bubbles — and left to harden. The end result resembles old stained glass, fitting in perfectly with an old abandoned cabin. The fake glass is cheap to make and has an obvious and significant safety advantage over breaking a real window pane.
The cast, Fidler said, is ready for an audience.
“They don’t know what’s funny anymore,” he said. “They’ve just been doing it in a vacuum.
“It’s going to be a fun shock when the audience starts to respond, not just the sound of (me) scribbling on the page.”
Evil Dead: The Musical runs at the Guild March 2-18. For more information visit guildhall.ca.