Monday, October 14, 2013

EVIL DEAD: THE MUSICAL • Stray Dog Theatre

Five kids, a remote cabin in the woods, and an ancient Book of the Dead.  Nothing could possibly go wrong, right?  Ha!  Stray Dog's camp-tacular blood-fest is back -- complete with the traditional "Splatter Zone" seats.  "Evil Dead: The Musical", based on Sam Raimi's cult-classic horror flicks, "The Evil Dead" and "Evil Dead II", was a sold-out smash when Stray Dog produced it in 2010, so it's back to add a good dose of winking, gory mirth to the Halloween season.

Ash (Paul Cereghino) heads up our motley crew of college kids on their way to the woods for a weekend getaway.  He's taking his girlfriend Linda (Eileen Engel), his best friend Scott (C.E. Fifer), hoping to get lucky with the bubbleheaded Shelly (Angela Bubash) who's there for the ride, with Ash's goofy little sister Cheryl (Anna Skidis) tagging along.  Once at the cabin, they find weapons, a Book of the Dead and a tape recorder in the cellar -- left there by the owner, Professor Knowby.  Naturally, the guys read from the book and play the audio recording to antagonize the girls, and once the incantations from the book are played back, a multitude of demons are unleashed.  Meanwhile, the late professor's daughter, Annie (Brittany Kohl), anxious to investigate her father's work, heads to the cabin with her husband Ed (Michael A. Wells), and their guide Jake (Zachary Stefaniak).  Once they arrive, not expecting that a bunch of kids have broken in, they find that all hell has broken loose.

(l to r) Anna Skidis (Cheryl), C.E. Fifer (Scott),
Angela Bubash (Shelly), Eileen Engel (Linda)
and Paul Cereghino (Ash).
Photo credit: John Lamb
Cereghino leads the group as our square-jawed hero Ash with ferocity and Skidis shows her usual flair for the comedic, reprising her role as the dorky and hilarious Cheryl -- the first to join the ranks of the un-dead.  Under Justin Been's high-paced direction, the cast all play their stock horror flick characters with over-the-top goodness, milking the comedy cow for all it's worth.  "It Won't Let Us Leave", "What the Fuck Was That?", "Bit Part Demon" and "Do the Necronomicon" are among the highlights.  Nathan Marshall's set is similar to their last production of "Evil Dead", but it's even more elaborate and tricked out.  Tyler Duenow's lighting design offers a variety of moods and looks and once again, great use is made of Tower Grove Abbey when shadows are thrown onto its stained glass windows after Cheryl ventures outside the cabin.  Jamie Lynn Marble contributes with wonderfully energetic, pastiche choreography that's executed well by the cast, and Sarah Castelli's make-up design adds a ghoulish touch.  Good work also from Alexandra Scibetta Quigley and her costume design and Chris Petersen's musical direction and the great sounding Evil Dead band.

(l to r) Zachary Stefaniak (Jake), Anna Skidis (Cheryl),
C.E. Fifer (Scott), Angela Bubash (Shelly),
Paul Cereghino (Ash), Eileen Engel (Linda)
and Jeff Loeffler Spirit of Professor Knowby.
Photo credit: John Lamb
Just like last time, for a little extra you can sit among the brave in the "Splatter Zone" seats.  In addition to being drenched by the end of the night, you'll get a nifty "I Survived the Splatter Zone" t-shirt to keep as a souvenir.  There's no need to be familiar with the "Evil Dead" franchise to enjoy this hilarious musical send-up that's sure to provide loads… or buckets, of bloody entertainment.  Check it out!  Tickets sell quickly.


Book/lyrics by George Reinblatt
Music by Christopher Bond, Frank Cipolla, Melissa Morris, & George Reinblatt
Directed by Justin Been
Assistant directed by Anna Skidis
Tower Grove Abbey, 2336 Tennessee Ave.
through November 2 | tickets: $18 - $35
Performances Thursday to Saturday at 8pm, Wednesday, October 30 at 8pm

(l to r) Paul Cereghino (Ash), Brittany Kohl (Annie Knowby)
and Zachary Stefaniak (Jake).
Photo credit: John Lamb
Paul Cereghino (Ash Williams), Eileen Engel (Linda), C.E. Fifer (Scott), Anna Skidis (Cheryl Williams), Angela Bubash (Shelly), Brittany Kohl (Annie Knowby), Michael A. Wells (Ed Getley/Moose), Zachary Stefaniak (Jake) and Jeff Loeffler (Spirit of Professor Knowby/Fake Shemp).

Scenic design by Nathan Marshall; lighting design by Tyler Duenow; costume design by Alexandra Scibetta Quigley; choreography by Jamie Lynn Marble; make-up design by Sarah Castelli; music and vocal direction by Chris Petersen; stage manager, Justin Been.

Evil Dead Band:
Keyboard, Chris Petersen; electric guitar and banjo, Adam Rugo; percussion, Bob McMahon.

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