Chris Bond: It’s tough to say. The blood effects are so cool and I think people are surprised what we can do on the stage and it’s so much fun. Hardcore fans of the films, I think they are just impressed with us paying justice to the films. Obviously there are some liberties taken, but it is all done in the spirit, and lovingly done so of the films. All the iconic moments, all the iconic imagery, those moments you loved, are all in the show. And even from lines and beats, to just things on the stage like our set deck and they’re all little bits and things you’ll recognize from the cabin and films.
The characters, the costumes, these obviously are amped up a little bit, and we play on things a little bit, but it’s all there. So if you’re a fan of the films, you literally get everything. All the lines, all the characters, we mirror the characters of Evil Dead 1 and Evil Dead 2 in one show. There was no Jake in Evil Dead 1, but you know he’s in our story, along with all of the original cabin kids. And we have all the cheese ball lines that Ash says from Army of Darkness.
So I think fans come out of [the show] not being pissed off that we screwed with their favorite movie. But meanwhile people who are not fans of the film – and we stress this a lot, you don’t have to love Evil Dead to love this show. It’s a great, hilarious comedy on it’s own. People not knowing a thing about Evil Dead or horror movies, come out laughing like crazy because it’s a fun, party-like atmosphere. The songs are catchy and fun. It’s all lyrical comedy driven. It’s all funny lines and crazy stuff. Comedy is number one. You don’t have to be a genre or zombie fan or anything like that to love this thing. It really is for everybody.
Chris Bond: You know, when we first did it, we did it at a bar in like 2003. Obviously there was some development and changes made in the show. Since then, for the New York production off-Broadway we rewrote the ending and added a new song at the end. And I think there was another song added to the show, but you know, I think the show has changed the most in blood. Just more and more blood.
And more effects, and crazier fights and dancing. The show just gets bigger and bigger. We just keep amping it up, you know, cause it’s so much fun, and we just discover more fun things. And then someone says, “Hey you know what would be cool? If the blood exploded out of this?” And then we just make it happen. So it’s been too fun. We’ve even had fans that have been like, “You know what would be awesome? If this happened.” And we’ll be like, “Hmm, can we do that?” We’ve worked with some pretty great blood people and effects people that make these dreams a reality.
In this day when everything has tie-ins and licensing issues, did you have any roadblocks trying to get the rights from Evil Dead?
Chris Bond: I’m sure if we tried to do this today, we would have all kinds of problems. Fortunately it was 2002 and we literally found Bruce Campbell’s email on the internet, and just sent him an email. So we’re like, “Hey! We’re just a bunch of guys, a bunch of kids who graduated school and got this idea to do an Evil Dead musical and I’m sure you guys remember when you just got out of film school and you shot Evil Dead up in the cabin. We can see you guys didn’t have any money, and that’s us! We’d love to put this on in a bar. Would you let us do it?” And you know Bruce was really cool, he said, “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of. Sounds great.” Bruce Campbell is exactly as he is on TV. He’s like that fun and kinda kooky and he’s great. Super supporter of the show.
And he basically pointed us in the direction of the film studios that own the rights to the film, and we told them what we wanted to do. We were very small potatoes at the time and they just said, go ahead. Go ahead and we’ll see how it goes. We were fortunate, not a lot of films being made into musicals back then. Since Evil Dead, there has been Re-Animator, and Toxic Avenger and everybody kinda doing what we did first. And we’re proud that we kind of pioneered this. We were dealing with a time in early 2000s, a property that definitely had a cult audience but it wasn’t as in the main stream as much as it is now.
I don’t wanna say we had a part in reinvigorating the brand, but it certainly didn’t hurt that all of a sudden this cult movie that no one has heard from since the late 80’s, early 90’s is being built into a musical. And then all of a sudden there’s a remake and a TV series (Ash vs Evil Dead). So we are proud to be a part of the canon, you know, part of the Evil Dead legacy.
Bruce has been a big champion of the show. He’s come to openings, signings and Q&A’s for the show, and he’s supported us. We couldn’t be happier. And to be honest, we are thrilled about the TV show. The remake was fun (Evil Dead 2013), but totally different and outside of the canon of what I think the show is, or Evil Dead was, and I think fans enjoyed it, but I think it’s different.
This is the Evil Dead that the fans know and have wanted. It’s great to have Bruce Campbell back, and doing his thing and just giving the brand even more awareness. And hopefully people will discover Evil Dead just like you and I have, and maybe they’ll check out the musical and have a blast.
Evil Dead: The Musical is playing nightly at the Mesa Arts Center through Nov 15th. Tickets are still available here.