It's over the top, it's profane, it's gory in the campiest of ways. It's got a fairly dirty mind.
And by the end of “Evil Dead: the Musical,” which opened this weekend at the Omaha Community Playhouse, pools of fake blood cover the floor around the Howard Drew stage — and audience members who've reserved front-row seats in the Splatter Zone.
Darned if this show isn't an outrageous laughfest, especially for people who love horror movies and parody. I'm not a huge fan of either, and I laughed all night at Thursday's preview.
Director Carl Beck and a talented cast plant tongues firmly in cheek at the outset, so it's unlikely you're going to be scared or grossed out by severed body parts, screaming demons or shotgun blasts to the solar plexus.
“Evil Dead: the Musical,” based on a trilogy of low-budget horror flicks directed by Sam Raimi, follows the basic plotline of the films. Five young people break into a cabin in the woods with partying and sex on their minds.
But the cabin contains the Necronomicon — a book of the dead through which the partiers unwittingly unleash demons that possess them. The scientist who discovered the book is missing and his daughter, Shelly, shows up with missing pages from the book, prolonging the ridiculously fun agony.
Scenic designer Jim Othuse and props master Darin Kuehler have loaded the cabin with haunted-house surprises, many of them enhanced by John Gibilisco and Tim Burkhart's sound effects.
Music director Mitch Fuller's instrumental quartet spins out a varied score of rock, doo-wop, soft shoe, latin and other strains, and choreographer Melanie Walters cleverly adds to the high-camp, oversexed absurdities.
Most tune titles (some unprintable here) are more memorable than the melodies, but some numbers are downright catchy. My favorites included “What the (bleep) Was That?” and “All the Men in My Life Keep Getting Killed by Candarian Demons.”
But what makes the show is Beck's sure-footed direction and casting for parody. Most impressive: Brian Zealand, spot-on as Ash, leader of the five cabin invaders. He's funny, a commanding physical presence and a strong vocalist to boot.
Right behind him: Lauren Koll as Ash's sister, who is truly maniacal once possessed and popping up through a trapdoor. Steven Michael Shelton is every girl's nightmare date, and his death scene is not to be missed.
Amanda Rounds plays two sexpots — one brainy, one bimbo — with inspired abandon. Lindsey Tierney and Thomas Gjere are just right as a girlfriend over the moon and a boyfriend who can't get a word in edgewise.
Jared Daily lays on the backwoods bumpkin act, funny in a fat suit, and Andrew Baumer rounds out the cast in multiple roles. Even Beck has creepy fun in voice-overs as the scientist and narrator.
The show is under two hours, including intermission. Fast pacing and knowing when to quit, essential with parody, keep this bloody slip-slide flying.
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