With a dozen-plus gallons of artificial blood waiting to douse patrons, Bootless Stageworks’ “Evil Dead: The Musical” will feel more like a water ride than a rock musical.
Starring the chainsaw and shotgun-wielding college student Ash (John Jerbasi) as he battles an onslaught of evil deadites (undead protagonists), the bloodbath will begin Friday night at OperaDelaware Studio in Wilmington. The show runs through Saturday, July 28. (Note: the Saturday, July 21 show is already sold out, so buy your tickets quickly.)
The production — which has been presented by Bootless two previous times — is directed by Rosanne DellAversano, with musical direction by her husband, James Fuerst. The music was written by George Reinblatt, Christopher Bond and Frank Cipolla, with lyrics also by Reinblatt.
“Evil Dead: The Musical” is based on Reinblatt’s hilarious off-Broadway production, which spoofed three films from Sam Raimi’s cult classic, horror trilogy: “The Evil Dead,” “The Evil Dead II” and “Army of Darkness.”
Taking creative liberties, “Evil Dead: The Musical” is entirely set in a cabin and draws from the plot lines of the first two films (“Evil Dead II” was essentially a remake of the first movie, but with a larger budget, more blood and humor). The musical also features the campiness of the last two films, as well as beloved one-liners from the final movie, said Fuerst, 35, of Wilmington.
“Evil Dead: The Musical” follows four college students who join Ash on a spring break trip to an old, abandoned cabin in the woods. In the cabin, they accidentally unleash an evil terror after reciting passages from “Necronomicon Ex-Mortis” (book of the dead).
Ash must save the day, but not without being forced to see the deadites perform the robot (“Do the Necronomicon”) and other funky dance numbers.
Jerbasi, of Philadelphia, says it’s been a blast slaying deadites at rehearsal with Ash’s iconic chainsaw — which is strapped to his hand throughout the show — and “boomstick.”
“It actually feels pretty awesome,” said Jerbasi, 31, who offers a beefier rendition of the character. “It’s a weapon that’s strapped to your hand and it’s like an extension of you.”
Most notable about Bootless’ rendition of “Evil Dead: The Musical” is it features heaps of blood. When Reinblatt introduced the show off-Broadway in New York in 2006, he created the Splatter Zone: the first three rows of the theater where patrons could count on getting drenched with fake blood.
Bootless’ production will feature 15 to 20 gallons of artificial blood that’ll be hurled at audiences from nitrogen-charged hoses hidden — as well as in plain view — throughout the theater. Adding to the chaos, each performer will also be wearing a blood pack.
Page 2 of 2 - “It’s tons of crazy,” Fuerst said of the Splatter Zone. “But it’s audience participation designed for them to get involved. They’re witnessing this, so it’s 4-D. It’s like a Disney ride on steroids.”
Emily McVicker, who plays the college student Annie, relishes that “Evil Dead: The Musical” offers jaw-dropping amounts of crude humor.
“I love that it’s a wild and crazy musical,” smiled McVicker, 24, of Philadelphia. “I love the morbid sense of humor.”