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Evil Dead: The Musical Livens Up Austin

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Bedlam and Boomsticks at the Salvage Vanguard Theater

by Steve Labinski

Texana Staff

The folks at Austin's out of the way Salvage Vanguard Theater have drilled into bright red paydirt this Halloween season with its cheeky and gory adaptation of Evil Dead: The Musical, a worthy retelling of the cult Sam Rami's Evil Dead horror films set to song. Judging by the enthusiastic, standing-room only audience at the Thursday night performance that we saw, this blood steeped project has reached into a very rich vein.

Not since seeing the Rocky Horrer Picture Show midnight shows years ago, have I seen so many young people, many of whom are dressed as blood-splattered characters from the films, seem so enthusiastic before any show. The off-beat horror show weaves nicely into popular Austin culture, making it a perfect fit for this town. The producers have even gone so far as to sell special t-shirts in the lobby that read, KEEP AUSTIN EVIL.

The musical adaptation originally premiered in Toronto in 2003, and several years later traveled to a popular run Off-Broadway in New York City. Austin is now one of a growing list of cities performing, Evil Dead: The Musical. People who have seen the Evil Dead movies will very much enjoy the numerous topical references and puns in the show's book and lyrics. To those who have not seen the films, the experience will probably be like seeing Rocky Horror performed as a stageshow for the first time without any benefit of ever having seeing the movie. [

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Still it is all lots of fun, even for "virgins," to borrow a Rocky Horror term. A specially designated seating area is marked off as the Splatter Zone, where audience members, who pay extra for the privilege, get doused in stage blood throughout the show.

The cast consists of many familiar faces in Austin regional theater, including David Gallagher, who does an impressive job playing Ash, the story's hero. Corley Pillsbury, plays Ash's little sister Cheryl, who practically steals the show despite the fact that she spends most of it locked-up in the cellar, peering through the chained stage door taunting the rest of the cast.

This production seemingly stretches Salvage Vanguard to its maximum limit. Compared to the typical plays performed there, Evil Dead: The Musical completely uses the entire available stage area. Many additional rows of additional seats have been added to handle the larger audiences, as well as the special Splatter Zone section. Before the show, it seemed that the theater staff was a bit overwhelmed with the size of the crowd. It was announced at the start of the show that Salvage Vanguard has added additional performances to handle the large amount of interest. This is all actually a good thing. It may be ironic in a way that the stage production which shows the most life and vitality is a story about undead Kandarian demons dancing to the Necronomicon.

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