Rep’s ‘Evil Dead’ Finally Coming to Life

Isaiah Asplund as Ash in Rochester Repertory Theatre’s production of “Evil Dead the Musical” which opens Oct. 8 at the Rochester Civic Theatre. John Molseed / Post Bulletin

It’s the musical that refuses to die.

Rochester Repertory Theatre’s production of “Evil Dead the Musical” will finally hit the stage Oct. 8 at the Civic Theatre main stage. Two scheduled runs of the comedic horror were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It looks like we’re really doing it this time,” said director Annie Landkammer.

The show has a new cast and makes use of the Civic’s larger theater space than the Rep’s home which is under renovation. Cliché horror tropes are given a send-up as five teens find themselves facing an ancient evil in an empty cabin in the woods. The actors straddle the line between parody and believability.

“The goal is to have the actors, as their characters, not believe they’re being silly,” Landkammer said.

Based off of the movie series, the stage musical version features the same camp humor, over-the-top horror tropes and self-referential Easter eggs as Ash battles demons, zombies (and his own hand) in the secluded woods. The new cast brings youthful energy to the show, Landkammer added.

“Every single one of them — even though they’re new to the Rochester theater scene — has a lot of experience and education,” she said. “It makes my job easier.”

Cast members add a bit of their own humor and twists into their roles and find ways they can push a joke a bit further for extra laughs, Landkammer said.

“The cast really gets into it and adds their own stuff,” she said. “Or we’ll all come up with an idea and they make it work.”

If you’re looking for something creepy and frightening, this show might not be what you need. This production also tones down on the gore the script calls for.

“The show actually calls for a ‘splatter zone,’” Landkammer said. “We’re not doing that — liquids and COVID don’t mix.”

Humor is at the forefront of the show. However, sound and lighting techs have their hands full.

“They’re the ones that bring (the evil) to life,” Landkammer said.

–John Molseed, Post-Bulletin, September 29, 2021