Sometimes when five college students make their way to an old, abandoned cabin in the woods, things work out amazingly well. This isn’t one of those times.
Fortunately for us, their bad time translates into a hilarious and extremely well produced show, as evidenced by The Garage Theatre’s production of Evil Dead: The Musical. The theater, located in Long Beach, CA, is of the Black Box nature, which means that the audience is never really more than 10 feet away from the action…something that will come into play later.
Originally written by George Reinblatt and Frank Cipolla, the story mashes all three Evil Dead films together into a coherent re-telling, along with musical accompaniment. While I saw the show in its original run off-Broadway many years ago, this one, directed by Matt Kollar, contains a few new flourishes to make it stand out.
For starters, due to the size of the theater, the entire place is “on stage.” Meaning that when you walk in, you immediately are in the forest around the cabin. The cast gets in your face. Sometimes, they even interact with you. Kollar and his team also make great use of video projection, starting the show off with video re-telling of the Necronomicon Ex Mortis. The videos continue throughout the show, giving some added visual effects into the show. These are small touches, really, but at the end of the day, they really made the show stand out a bit more from the rest.
Also, again, due to the small size, the entire audience is in the splash zone. For those of you who have seen the show before know what I am talking about. For those of you who haven’t…well, perhaps consider buying that poncho they offer you when you first arrive. Otherwise, just like Splash Mountain, you WILL get wet.
The set itself was fantastic, too. I saw it in its very early stages when I interviewed Kollar and producer Matt Maguire a few weeks ago, and I have to say, it really blew me away in its final form. Clever use of the space, and a tilted floor did wonders to make it seem larger, and get the infamous cellar door just right. Kudos to the set designers and builders for making it work so well.
As a massive fan of the original films (and the new TV show), I know it’s always hard to get Ash right. Thankfully, Steven G. Frankenfield plays him to the max, nailing the mannerisms and even the look of a young Bruce Campbell (though, I suppose we have to thank his family for that). Frankenfield does incredibly well, and sells himself in the role. Really, he was an excellent casting choice.
Also of note is Nori Tecosky as Shelly / Annie. Playing these extremely opposite, dual roles is always hard, but Tecosky loses herself in both characters. It was almost like watching two different actresses, as most of my party believed she had to have been two people. As Shelly, she is the ditzy blonde, but as Annie, she plays it with a sort of Indiana Jones-esque flair, really making the character stand out.
But really, ALL of the cast is amazing. Austin Book is wonderful as Ash’s over-sexed best friend, especially in their “What The Fuck Was That?” number. Hollie Sokol pretty much nails the role of the perfect girl and has fantastic voice in “Housewares Employee.” Jazzy Jones’ turn as Cheryl is pretty amazing, and her rendition of “Look Who’s Evil Now” is my new favorite. Paul Scott is a bit part demon no more, and his turn as Ed was great. Timmy Red’s good old reliable Jake was a standout, as well.
Special shout outs to the crew as well, doubling as S-Mart employees to help transition the scenes, clean up the blood, and be trees.
This show is not to be missed, as is the perfect way to compliment the Halloween season. It runs Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, now until October 15th, so you should definitely jump on the chance to buy tickets now.
For more information, visit The Garage Theatre online at: www.thegaragetheatre.org
To buy tickets, visit https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/cal/553