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December 8, 2023

Ungrateful ‘Dead’ Spills Over

Sam Raimi horror classic spoofed in Healdsburg

This article was contributed by Harry Duke.

If the lack of a splatter zone is what’s kept you from returning to live theater, do the Raven Players have a show for you. Evil Dead: The Musical is running at the Raven Performing Arts Theater in Healdsburg through October 29.

Based on the Sam Raimi classic cult-horror film trilogy, playwright George Reinblatt took elements from the three films, added songs and music by himself and Frank Cipolla, Christopher Bond and Melissa Morris, and came up with a show that’s delighted, and soaked, genre fans since 2003.

Five college students, led by Ash (Bohn Connor), decide to spend their spring break breaking into a cabin in the woods. They come upon a bit of writing titled Necronomicon Ex-Mortis (a.k.a. The Book of the Dead). After reading a few passages out loud, and faster than you can say “spam in a cabin,” they’ve unleashed Canderian demons who turn the squatters one-by-one into murderous zombies.

The first to go is Ash’s sister, Cheryl (Beth Greene), who they manage to chain up in the cellar but who keeps popping up through the floor to remind everyone, often through the use of horrible puns, that they’re all going to die. She’s soon followed by Shelly (Emilia Naples), ditzy girlfriend of foul-mouthed, misogynist Scott (director Troy Thomas Evans), who himself is attacked by murderous trees (Waylon Hessler and Joe Caruselle) while trying to escape. The only ones left are Ash and his girlfriend, Linda (Ashley Talbot), that is until Ash must decapitate her with a chainsaw—not that that stops the possessed Linda from taunting him.

Act II brings more victims with the arrival of the daughter of the owner of the cabin (Kelly Devoto), her frequently-interrupted boyfriend (Steve Cannon) and a local yokel (Evan Espinoza). All are dispatched with multitudinous quarts of blood that often make their way into the first few rows of the theater.

All this is, of course, set to music and often relayed through songs with titles like “Look Who’s Evil Now” and “What the F*** Was That?” The music, well-delivered by Tika Moon and a 5-piece band, really added to the humorously dark mood of the show.

Connor is a gifted physical and vocal performer who gives the role of Ash exactly what it needs. The supporting cast also delivers, with Greene’s Cheryl a particularly devilish delight. The show’s big number, “Do the Necronomicon” (with choreography by Talbot), was a blast. Yes, it sounds like, and even references, Rocky Horror’s “Time Warp.”

Evil Dead: The Musical is exactly what it sounds like. A campy, cheesy, crude, stupid, silly, messy send-up of a campy, cheesy, crude, silly, stupid horror movie series. It’s a perfect, but damp, theatrical way to kill a Halloween-season evening.

‘Evil Dead: The Musical’ runs through Oct. 29 at the Raven Performing Arts Theater, 115 North St., Healdsburg. Thu–Sat, 7:30 pm; Sun, 2 pm. $10–$40 707.433.6335.  raventheater.org


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