Review: Bloodts and Guffaws – ‘Evil Dead: The Musica, Gul’, Live at The Barnstormers Theater

By Lisa Panzer

Barnstormers gets the blood pumping during their dead on staging of the outrageously hysterical musical version of Sam Raimi’s infamous 80s classic cult film “Evil Dead” – especially if you are sitting in the ‘Splatter Zone’! Follow five clueless college students as they sing, dance and trespass into a clandestine old cabin in the woods for a night of fun and frolic, only to wind up releasing an archaic demon from the 1300s, who then turns them, one by one, into evil Kandarian Demons. Ash (Michael Zurawski) slays the undead single-handedly, literally, fighting for life until dawn. As directed by L.J. ‘Buzz’ DiSabatino, Co-director Martin English, with musical direction by Meghan Hickey and keen choreography by Jessica Fields, musical numbers like “Look Who’s Evil Now”, the tango-esque “What the F**k Was That?”, “Bit Part Demon”, “Ode to an Accidental Stabbing” and “Do the Necronomicon” rock the house as laughter rolls through the aisles.

Michael Zurawski’s Ash is outstanding as he plays to the audience, making them part of the event. His strong acting, comedic timing and vocal ability works well with Ashley O’Connor’s beautiful bell-like singing voice as Linda, and Megan Hickey’s kick ass vocals as Annie. Joe Dempsey’s fabulous physicality and over-the-top shtick and Dorian Bean’s hilarious Jake, particularly in the musical number “Good Old Reliable Jake” keeps things devil-hopping along. Melissa Hope plays Cheryl the wonderfully wacked-out pigtailed teller of bad zombie zingers along.  The talents of dashing dancer Nicholas Renna as Ed, and Amanda Tadrzynski as blonde bombshell Shelley round things out. Supporting wicked spirits are riotously played by Wendie Heatherington, Anna Rose, Tauron Thompson as the Spirit of Knowby and Gabe Riberio as Moose. This cast knows how to entertain!

Lending an extra aura of eeriness to the show is the delightfully resonant soundscape by Martin English.  L.J. ‘Buzz’ DiSabatino’s fantastic lighting effects can cast a nefarious moving forest throughout the theater, create glowing basement doors, render red death, and other mood enhancing marvels which flourish upon a spectacularly detailed set, complete with bulging cellar doors, antiqued wood and kitchen. Stage Manager Brian Miller and Rebecca Smith manages the many fun, gory props used on and off stage. Ghoulishly clever costumes by Julie Lacontora, L.J. ‘Buzz’ DiSabatino, Nancy Lasco-Smith, Melanie Reyne and the cast fit, well within the overall context of the production.

Jessica Fields’ well-thought out, concise choreography incorporates neatly and seamlessly into every scene in which it appears. Moves are succinct, purposeful, translate well and are easily followed. Combined with the superb skills of the indefatigable band featuring musicians Matthew English on keyboard, Chris Shaw on guitar and Ian Harwell on drums, it all comes together for a thoroughly enjoyable, far-out experience.

For a bloody good evening of lively entertainment, ‘camp out’ with the cast and crew of ‘Evil Dead’ at The Barnstormers Theater. And say “Hi” to Moose!

Running time: Two hours, 30 minutes, including one 15 minute intermission.

Book and Lyrics by George Rienblatt,

Music by Frank Cipolla, Christopher Bond and Melissa Morris.

If you go: Remaining performances are October 27 and 28, and November 3 and 4 at 8 p.m. For tickets, visit http://www.barnstormerstheater.com/tickets.html or call 610- 461-9969.  The Barnstormers Theater is located at 402 Tome St., Ridley Park, PA 19078.

Note: This show may contain language and adult content, which may not be suited to anyone under 18 years of age.