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Evil Dead – The Musical gets gruesome again

It just won't undie. Evil Dead – The Musical, a zinging, singing and blood-flinging rock-musicial adaptation of Sam Raimi's Evil Dead film trilogy, makes its triumphant return to Toronto, with Ryan Ward reprising his star role in the campy riot about demons, college kids and a scary trip into the woods. We spoke to one of the show's creators, Christopher Bond.

Evil Dead – The Musical made its debut a decade ago at the Tranzac Club. How did it come about?
I had just graduated from Queen's University, and I wanted to get into directing. Nobody would hire me, so I made my own show and hired myself. I teamed up with George Reinblatt, Frank Cipolla and Melissa Morris. Together, we put the show together. We're still pretty mesmerized by the success.

Over the 10 years, zombies have become more mainstream. Has that helped in the popularity of Evil Dead?
It's pretty convenient. But I think the show itself, whether you're a genre fan or not, stands on its own. Just because of the interactive experience and the tongue-in-cheek lyrics. First and foremost, it's a comedy.

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People like to talk about the splatter zone, the front row seats where the blood gets flying. Do you think too much is made of that element of the production? Personally, I think the whole show is great, and that not enough is made of the show as a whole.
Thank you for saying that. I think the show is way deeper than the splashing of blood on the audience. It doesn't hurt to do that too, though. But, yes, you have to credit [the show's writer] George Reinblatt. He's a really talented and funny guy.

What clicks with the audience members? I mean the ones who aren't zombie fanatics or the fans who aren't splattered with sticky red goo.
I think the punchlines and gags are on the money. But people get different things out of it. Not any show has all the puppet work, the lighting and all the special effects that we do. We have smoke and the cutting off of people's hands. I don't know if you're going to get that every day in a musical theatre show.

The show has gone from the Tranzac Club to a glitzy multimedia production on the Vegas strip. Could you have imagined that trajectory?
We were pretty confident that, even if we landed flat on our face, that we still wouldn't lose our shirt, just because the Evil Dead franchise had such a strong following. But at the time, our play was a really unique piece of property. People hadn't seen theatre done like this in a while. Now, every movie is being made into a musical. But back then we were right on top of that crest. We were pioneers, with the youth movement and party experience of theatre.

You mention movies being made into a musical. What about Evil Dead – The Musical being made into a movie?
That would be awesome. I really hope it's a matter of time. I'm just crossing my fingers and hoping for that to happen down the road.

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About the Author

Brad Wheeler is an arts reporter with The Globe and Mail. More


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