Evil Dead The Musical

Andrew Olson

Reader Weekly

Covered in blood, gore, and laughs, the cast and crew of Rubber Chicken’s Evil Dead: The Musical put on the best show of Halloween.

The only question you need to ask yourself is if you want to sit in the “Splatter Zone” or the less expensive “Non-Splatter Zone”. Being shown at The Venue, located on2024 Superior Street, the play had many more laughs than screams.

The main character in the Evil Dead movies, of which the musical spoofs, is named Ash. Played by large-jawed Bruce Campbell, the sarcastic and reluctant hero stands out as one of the most charismatic leads to ever be trapped in a horror film. On stage, Nathan St. Germain takes the torch, and he burns the audience with his own take on Ash.

“It's tough to strike a balance between making the part my own and trying to do an impression,” St. Germain said. “I'm actually a blonde, but I dyed my hair dark brown, for one thing. The character is just so iconic. It's tough to say what's different, because as an actor, I pretty much literally black out when I'm on stage playing the part.”

To those familiar with the cult-favorite Evil Dead movies and the funnier-than-scary Army of Darkness, this is a can’t miss event. If you haven’t seen the films yet, it still has plenty of cookie-cutter horror movie based laughs.

“There are a lot of jokes that are very specific not only to the movies themselves, but the lore surrounding them,” St. Germain said. “If you know why there's a ripped horror movie poster on the wall, or what a Fake Shemp is, or who Sam Raimi is, than there is a lot of special in-jokes for you. However, if you have no idea what any of that means, there's still a fantastically funny show to be seen.”

One funny little “rip” that reoccurs is when the female leads rip pieces of their clothes off, bit by bit, retaining the Evil Dead’s sexy undertones. Another strategically done jab at cheap horror flicks is the lack of scene continuity. The one that stood out most was when the talking possessed deer-head (voiced very well by Ric Stevens) was replaced later in the play by a moose-head.

“Director Brian Matuszak and I had a discussion about that at the beginning,” St. Germain said. “The script literally says nothing about how to do anything. Honestly, there are probably a million ways you could do any given effect.”

The music is what makes this play so entertaining. The songs are amazingly well written and memorable, but they also have a bite to them. Tunes like “What the F#$k Was That” and “Bit Part Demon” were not only funny, but were also very well performed.

“Well, our entire cast is amazing, and the majority of us were pretty familiar with the music going into it,” St. Germain said. “Bree Taylor, our music director, and Mindy Malenius, our rehearsal/show pianist really deserve a lot of credit. The rest of the band is great as well. They took what could have been merely "good" and made it fantastic. The first couple weeks of rehearsal were mainly music rehearsals.”

Many people may wonder with all the blood being tossed around, is it messy?

“The main thing is that the stage is carpeted, and it gets really sticky and really slippery,” St. Germain said. “I learned very quickly that fully lying down on any part of the stage when coated in maple syrup was going to get me completely covered with lint and hair and other stuff. I know that some of the other actors have been sprayed at surprising moments for them, and the ceiling took a pretty big hit. Everyone smells like waffles all the time, even after showering.”

This was my first time attending a Rubber Chicken show and going to The Venue inLincoln Park. It was somewhat hidden, but a very nice place to put on the show.

“The Venue has been amazing,” St. Germain said. “When we first were “location scouting”, we were nervous to ask about having a splatter zone. We had a backup plan of doing a blood-free show in case nobody would let us get messy. The initial conversation was pretty funny, but they told us we could basically go nuts with it. I never would have thought it'd be so easy, and I definitely hope to work there again. There's a lot of parking around too.”

Many of the performers in the play have a wealth of acting experience, which showed in the production. The character Scott, who is one part explicit Jimmy Neutron and one part Ace Ventura, is hilarious on stage. He spends most of the play trying to hook up with the ladies, but the way that Cory Regnier performed the part almost stole the show.

The night I saw the play it was sold out and the crowd seemed to be thoroughly impressed. One patron had said that he had been to every performance of Evil Dead: The Musical, and he was planning on being in the splatter zone for the late night Halloween performance.

“We've played to packed or nearly packed houses almost every performance,” St. Germain said. “It's been a smash. It's on pace to be the most attended show in Rubber Chicken's brief 1 1/2 year history, but this year has, in general, been really good for us. "Humpty Dumpty" was huge, as was "Great American Trailer Park Musical" in September and "Bushed" last October.”

This production shows the background work in how well it comes off. I asked St. Germain what was the most difficult aspect of putting on this play.

“Juggling the schedule with work, and all the technical aspects of the play,” He said. “I think it's fair to say that there were days where everybody wondered how the heck we were ever going do any of it. I couldn't be more proud of the show, my fellow actors, the musicians, Brian, and everybody else involved. Everybody did more than necessary to really pull together a labor of love. Even my mom helped… She made my gun holster. On the inside of it she wrote, "To Ash, Love Mom." Awww, right?”

So how does St. Germain channel his inner Ash?

“Stick up one eyebrow and yell a lot,” He said. “Also get tormented by your best friends and soaked in blood.”

Go to www.rubberchickentheater.com for tickets and information.