CSU Presents “Evil Dead: The Musical”

Evil Dead PosterA horrifically funny take on the popular film franchise

By Anna Massara

Bringing high quality, affordable live theatre to the Front Range, the theatre program at Colorado State University presents the horror-comedy Evil Dead: The Musical by agreement with Samuel French, Inc. Performances are nightly Thursdays through Sundays, running April 11, 12, 13, 14, 18, 19, 20, 21, 7:30 p.m. in the University Theatre at the University Center of the Arts, 1400 Remington Street. Production extras include a ‘Splash Zone’ and a Zombie Blood Drive.

Evil Dead: The Musical, which premiered in Toronto, Canada, was an immediate success and moved to an off-Broadway run in 2006 with hundreds of regional and international performances around the world. Critics praised the show, including a rave from the New York Times, calling it “the next Rocky Horror Show.”

The Canadian pop-rock musical is based on the cult classic Evil Dead horror film franchise. The innovative performance combines all the favorite moments from the original series that launched the directing career of Sam Raimi. The story follows five friends as they head to an old, isolated, and abandoned cabin in the woods where they accidentally unleash an evil force that's hell-bent on converting them to the restless undead, in this case, “Deadites.”

CSU Director of Theatre & Dance, Walt Jones, will stage the production. He notes that his interest in the play was, “confronting the challenge to do the self-referential musical as written: super cheesy and massively tongue-in-cheek—almost tongue-‘through’-cheek,” but to also “try to do what the original 1979-80 film set out to do—scare.” He added, “The script is thin enough—thin in a good way—that we are able to poke visual fun at our own list of targets. And the authors’ casting requirements are loose enough that we could offer ten times more roles than were in the original cast, and our production team—designers, technicians, production crew, tricks, special effects, and fight experts—is triple the size of our typical mainstage productions. When we are in rehearsal I look around and think, ‘who’s minding the store?’”

The show will appeal to all types of audiences, as it offers itself to comedy, horror, and musical theatre. Jones describes it as more like a circus, “a dark, in-your-face-and-up-close carnival that presents both the allure and revulsion for freaks in a side show, a contemporary Théâtre du Grand-Guignol.”

Evil Dead: The Musical will feature unique costumes by CSU Costume Shop Supervisor Janelle Sutton, who says her inspiration for the original costumes came from the Evil Dead films, Walking Dead, Night of the Living Dead, Cabin in the Woods, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Her costumes depict a bold diversity; “You’ll see every kind of zombie you could imagine and some you couldn’t.”

Along with the fun production elements, Jones cited his cast and creative team as being his favorite part of directing the show. “We’ve had about a dozen designer and crew ‘breakout’ sessions specifically for the special effects.” Featuring a cast of almost 50 CSU students (majors in Theatre, Dance, Music, Business, Engineering, History, and a dozen other majors campus-wide) along with a live four-piece rock band, featuring members of Fort Collins-based, Circana, an Associate Director and Choreographer, Emma Kimball (a senior Dance major at CSU) is “awesome, and has already shown her competence as a nervy and confident director,” Jones said.

“This show takes two full-time directors, a skilled musical director (David Hörger), two vocal coaches (CSU Opera-Theatre majors Nate Alpers and graduate student Alex Diesner), fight choreographer Bryan Connolly, even a ‘First Unit Director of Deadites’ (Theatre/Business major Chelsea Case) for the 38 zombies.”

Of the company, Jones said “they all embrace the ‘out-there’ and come up with whacky but hilarious solutions and toss them out for consideration.” he said. “I’d be really stupid not to incorporate their ideas; my cast represents our targeted audience. We laugh a lot.”

Don’t miss this opportunity to see if an unwitting S-Mart employee named Ash can save himself from death and survive a mass attack of the evil undead, all while he delivers unforgettable lines from the classic horror series.

Sit in the Splash Zone:

Along with the ghoulish makeup and costumes evocative setting by Maggie Seymour (Polaroid Stories, The Distance From Here, Sweeney Todd, The Kafka Project), the performance will feature a designated “Splash Zone”: reserved spots for those lucky front row seat-holders who will receive a commemorative Evil Dead: The Musical tee-shirt to help soak up the (stage) blood from the performance (think Sea World but gooier and red). Purchase or upgrade to the “Splash Zone” for only $10 at the Box Office.

“It’ll be seriously messy,” said Jones. “Approximately 1,000 gallons of blood will wash out, but it will be plentiful, gooey, viscous, and slippery."

Give Blood and get FREE Tickets:

On Wednesday, April 10, the theatre program at CSU will host a ‘Zombie Blood Drive’ at the University Center for the Arts from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., sponsored by the Garth Englund Blood Center of Poudre Valley Hospital. Join the cast of Evil Dead: The Musical  and get in the ‘spirit’ to support blood donations for Northern Colorado. Qualified donors will receive a free ticket to a performance CSU’s production. Read more.

Evil Dead: The Musical Performances:

Nightly (Thursday through Sunday): April 11, 12, 13, 14, 18, 19, 20, 21, 7:30 p.m.

Directed by Walt Jones and Emma Kimball, Choreography by Emma Kimball, Music Direction by David Hörger, Scenic Design by Maggie Seymour, Costume Design by Janelle Sutton, Lighting Design by Andy Killion, Property Design by Brittany Lealman, Makeup Design by Siobhan Gleason, Projection Design by Price Johnston, Sound Design by Parker Stegmaier, Fight Choreography by Bryan Connolly, Production Stage Manager, Tory Sheppard, Producing Technical Director, Nathan Cory Seymour, “Evil Dead” Graphics Designed by Nathan Young.

Principle Casting:
Seth Klusmire as “Ash”
Emma Schenkenberger as “Cheryl”
Meghan Connor as “Linda”
Jake Knowles as “Scotty”
Annie Marshall as “Shelly”
Kryssi Miller as “Annie”
B. Otts as “Ed”
Ben Hilzer as “Jake”
Jack Krause as “Knowby”

Book and Lyrics by George Reinblatt. Music by Frank Cipolla, Christopher Bond, Melissa Morris, George Reinblatt. Music Supervision by Frank Cipolla. Additional Lyrics by Christopher Bond. Additional Music by Rob Daleman. Produced by special arrangement with Renaissance Pictures, LTD. & Studio Canal Image, S.A. and Samuel French, Inc.