In their blood

Evil Dead the Musical at the Victoria

By Josher Lumpkin

Photo: Evil Dead the Musical comes to the Victoria Theatre Nov. 6-8

Don’t expect Christopher Bond, co-creator of Evil Dead the Musical, to be a lifelong horror fan.

“I’ll be really honest,” the 38-year-old Ontario native admits. “I was a big wuss. I was pretty scared of horror movies all together.”

But he came around.

“Somebody told me how funny ‘Evil Dead 2’ was,” he says. “They said, ‘Oh, ‘Evil Dead 2’ is like the greatest horror movie ever, because it’s scary and funny.’ And I fell in love with the movie.”

He adds affectionately, “‘Evil Dead 2’ was the gateway for me. It was like the first nibble of horror, and now I guzzle that stuff. And I felt like it really seemed like a great musical in the making.”

Bond attributes this revelation to Ash, the iconic protagonist of the “Evil Dead” movies.

“You had this heroic kind of character that had all these cheeseball lines,” Bond describes. “He has all this slapstick, 3 Stooges-style comedy, and he was fighting these evil forces in this house, and the house would come alive and make fun of him, and dump buckets of blood on him, and it just seemed like an actor versus a set on stage, and it would be really cool, and a lot of fun, and really physical and comedic.”

Bond, who was in Queen’s University’s Stage and Screen studies program, and a few fellow students did just that.

“I saw the movie, and I thought that this would be a really kind of great, campy, fun, slapstick-y thing to do, and I started working with my partners, George Reinblatt and Frank Cipolla, and we kind of dug into the other characters from the first film, ‘Evil Dead 1,’ and then some of the moments and comedy from ‘Army of Darkness,’ and you boil it down to one night, 90 minutes of mayhem, and it really worked.”

Bond describes the early days of the production.  “It really was fun on the stage, and it had all of the iconic moments from the film. All the moments and lines that fans love, but at the same time, it was innovative and it had its own original plotlines and songs and moments. We built it and designed it as a Broadway-style musical, with big choral dances and singing. It just made sense; it just worked.”

They took the show to the stage at a local bar. When word got out about the production, there were people lined down the block, waiting to get in.

“I didn’t realize that over a decade later, this show would become the hit that it would become, and it would have the life that it’s had,” Bond says. “We’ve been really blessed with this show.”

Bond reminisces about the early performances. “It was funny, and had great original music, and it really shaped up like a Broadway-style show, and we were able to take it from a bar to off-Broadway pretty quickly,” he recalls. “And obviously, we’re just a bunch of young guys, and we’re going, ‘Wow, this is amazing!’ To get the chance to work with some real pros, and the show continued to develop, and turn into an even bigger, bloodier, more crazy, manic, amusing night on stage.”

And bloody and amusing, it is. With crazy special effects, demons and gallons and gallons of fake blood (the first three rows in front of the stage are dubbed the “splatterzone”), Evil Dead the Musical is THE musical for people who don’t like musicals.

“I think the one thing that we always wanted to do was to set this show apart from other musicals, in the sense that we wanted that kind of interactive. To make it more of an experience and less of a show. You’re coming to this party. We encourage the audience to have a few drinks. We encourage them to make noise. If you’re gonna sit in the splatterzone, you’re gonna get buckets of blood dumped on your face,” Bond says, excitedly.

Crewmembers take great pains to make sure the theatres in which shows are performed are kept clean from every last drop that flies from the stage.

“We’ve created a very failsafe system of essentially coating the entire theatre in plastic, so we make sure we don’t ruin any theatres,” Bond says. “Obviously, we’re going into some beautiful, antique, classic theatres, and I would hate to destroy any of those, believe me, so we’ve been very diligent about creating a system that keeps everything nice and clean. Moreover, our blood is non-toxic, machine-washable, doesn’t stain or anything like that, it’s good stuff. You can even drink it.” Literally. “I’m told it’s minty. Obviously, our lead actor, Trent Mills, gets tons of blood in the face, and he says it’s minty. If anyone can speak to drinking our stage blood, it would be Trent, and he’s still alive, so we’re golden.”

Bond explains how they manage to keep theatres dry. “It just takes a lot of plastic. We cover the place entirely. And then we tape it onto the floors, and we create a plastic runway to shuttle the splatterzone victims out the door. We’re just very thorough. We wanna maintain these venues. Obviously, we want to be invited back.”

Theatres are mostly excited these days to get new, younger audiences to fill their seats, and “giving them exposure to what their theatre has to offer,” Bond says. “It’s a nice blend of a unique audience that doesn’t really go to the theatre, plus just people in the know, who are like, ‘Oh, I heard this is a great show, I’m gonna check it out. I just wanna have a fun night.’”

Bond postulates that the members of the audience who don’t normally go to the theatre will see posters and handbills for other shows they’ll want to attend.

“They walk in and they go, ‘Oh hey! They got this show playing, too? That sounds kinda cool. Maybe I’ll come check it out.’”

Bond is confident that audiences at Victoria Theatre will be satisfied when they attend Evil Dead the Musical.

“I think they can expect the funnest 90 minutes they’re ever gonna have in the theatre,” he says. “Quite frankly, I don’t think there’s anything better to do around the Halloween season than see Evil Dead the Musical. You get comedy, Halloween, gore, fun, dancing, singing, puppets, special effects, lights, you name it. Fancy dancing, everything. And it’s hilarious. l had no idea when we put this on a decade ago, that it was gonna be a phenomenon. It still blows my mind. I’m just thrilled that I still get to work on it. It’s amazing. It’s great.”

Evil Dead the Musical will be performed at Friday-Sunday, Nov. 6-8 at the Victoria Theatre, 126 N. Main St., downtown Dayton. Showtimes are Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 3 p.m. Tickets are $25-$40. For more information, please visit EvilDeadtheMusical.com.

Reach DCP freelance writer Josher Lumpkin at josherlumpkin@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Josher Lumpkin is a nursing student and aspiring historian who enjoys writing about music and geekdom of all kinds. He is especially fond of punk rock, tabletop gaming, sci-fi/fantasy and camping with his wife, Jenner, and their dogs, Katie and Sophie. Reach him at JosherLumpkin@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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