Waayyyy back in March of 2014, I posted an in-depth review of “Evil Dead: The Musical 4D Experience” in Las Vegas (HERE). At that time, I had seen the show 3 times (?), and felt like I had a good handle on it. Since then, I’ve seen it 5(?) more times. After I saw it again a month ago (driving down from the Salt Lake City area again with my daughter), the show’s producer, Sirc Michaels, joked that I should do a follow-up piece.
I thought, “Why not?”
So here goes.
But first, let me sum up my history with this show, so far.
I have been through THREE different “Ash”es, at least THREE “Linda”s, at least TWO “Jake”s, at least THREE “Cheryl”s (but Lorie Palkow is still my favorite), at least 3 “Shelly/Annie”s, at least 3 “Scotty”s, and a few “Ed”s, as well.
I have seen this show with a friend that didn’t want to go (but who wound up loving it), with my wife (who saw it because she knows I love it, and enjoyed it. Man, I love her.), with my daughter (who loves most of the same geeky stuff I do and was ecstatic when she got “Carried” at intermission). I’ve seen it solo. I’ve even seen it with Bruce Campbell doing the introduction at a special performance during Salt Lake Comic Con, 2014 (See it HERE! Turn up your speakers.)
Now, I will admit that I’m a bit spoiled/jaded here, because the first few times I saw this show, it was at the height of its power, so-to-speak. The cast had basically been together for a year or more, and it ran like a fucking Swiss watch. Every song, every comedic beat, every movement, and every moment was flawlessly executed and impeccably timed.
And, from what I understand about live stage productions in general, and musicals specifically….
…that shit just doesn’t happen. It just doesn’t. (Understand that I will be trying to differentiate between the show and the performances here.) That many moving parts just do not work together that well, that consistently in theater.
That is a testament to what Sirc has managed to put together. A cast that loves the material, and that is willing to stick around and keep doing it, and giving the fans what they wanted.
That is not to downplay AT ALL the production as it stands now. Far from it. I think that Sirc continues to find good, talented actors to step into roles that, in the realm of cult-movie-parody-theater, are very difficult to make their own.
And that’s the key thing I’m thinking about now that I’m looking back. Making a role your own.
George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and Daniel Craig are known, at least anecdotally (and in my head, anyway), as the “not-Sean-Connery Bonds.”
When the “remake” of Evil Dead was released a couple years ago (see HERE), people howled at the fact that so much had changed from the original Sam Raimi/Bruce Campbell partnership.
Of course people complained; people take ownership of things like that. James Bond, Superman (Christopher Reeve forever!), Evil Dead: trying to make one of those things “your own” is a Sisyphean task. But as an actor, you have to realize that those things will never be “your own” because in the end, they’re not yours to claim.
And that’s what I think “Evil Dead: The Musical” remembers: no matter which actors grace the stage, they try to give the audience the performance they’re looking for. There’s no vanity involved, no trying to put their “spin” on a character. Aside from updating some song lyrics to keep the humor culturally relevant, and some cosmetic set-changes now and then, depending on venues and whatnot, the performance is exactly what the fans expect to get. What I once called a love letter to Bruce Campbell is still what they’re giving the fans in Vegas.
And that’s GREAT.
Has my opinion on the show changed, then, overall? Hardly. Still fun, still funny, still incredibly difficult to wash out of the clothes I wear to see it. Sirc has his Swiss watch working, hopefully for a long time to come (especially with “Ash vs The Evil Dead” due out this fall!).
So get your butts to Vegas and see this show! See it again if you’ve already seen it. Bring a friend. Bring an enemy. Bring your grandma! (maybe not grandma…)
Playing Friday and Saturday nights at the V Theater in the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood, it’s well worth your time. Oh, and grab a copy of the cast recording on your way out of the show as you pass through S-Mart. It’s outstanding!
But for the love of God, please shower before bed, or else the next morning, the maids will think you killed someone on their sheets.