EVIL DEAD THE MUSICAL – LIMITED SHOWING AT CENTER STAGE – ADULT ONLY VERY BLACK HORROR PARODY BY LAKE CHARLES’ NEW AND BRAVE BLACK MARKET THEATRE GROUP

 

SHORT TAKE:

Adult VERY black humor musical based on the cult horror classic Evil Dead trilogy.

WHO SHOULD GO:

Adults ONLY with a taste for macabre comedy and who wish to encourage the efforts of our newest theatre group, Black Market Theatre, to put on more nouveau plays that Lake Charles might not otherwise get an opportunity to see.

LONG TAKE:

I have seen the social commentary that was Night of the Living Dead, the parody of zombie movies Shaun of the Dead, the apocalyptic World War Z and the over-the-top comedy Zombieland.

Now as my eighth grade social studies teacher used to say: "You can bury me face down because now seen everything!" Evil Dead the Musical is based upon the parody zombie horror flick of the same name that became a cult classic in the 80s starring the otherwise pretty much unknown Bruce Campbell.

Evil Dead the Musical plays through Halloween at our own Center Stage here in Lake Charles, at 3426 Ryan next to the Mellow Mushroom, and is being put on by some very familiar faces out of the McNeese University Theatre Department. Buy your tickets HERE.

Three husband/wife teams contribute to the mayhem which put this show on. Jessa and William Lormand direct and Jessa plays Cheryl, sister of the intrepid hero, Ash. William doubles in the band which plays live music along with Bryce Louviere and Daniel Fontenot.

 Ash is Timothy Smith and his bride Sarah is Linda, appropriately, Ash's love interest. Lara and Luke Connally, who have appeared in numerous productions around town, including Kiss me Kate and The Secret Garden, play, respectively, Annie, daughter of the ill-fated scientist and Jake, the ill-fated hillybilly neighbor who foolishly guides them to the cursed cabin. Tyler Brumback and Amy Phillips, who have portrayed love interests on stage before, most notably in The Secret Gardenplay Scott and Shelly, the bawdy weekend roommates. Ed and the voice of the possessed moose head (you've got to see it to know what I'm talking about) is Joey Boyette, another veteran of local theater. KBYS' own radio personality Curry Burton is the Voice of Knowby. And Nikki Guillory plays a deadite.

The premise is that 5 college students, with far too much time on their hands, set out for a weekend of debauchery at an abandoned cabin in the woods.

Things turn REALLY ugly when it turns out the cabin belongs to a scientist who unwisely set loose demons with an ancient book of the dead. Beset by demons and attacked by trees in need of an exorcism, one by one each of our intrepid heroes are dispatched and zombiefied, (from the movie) until only Ash is left standing with a sword in one hand and a chainsaw for his other hand.

If it sounds gruesome…it is. But it is all done very lightly. Evil Dead the Musical is to zombie horror stories what Bullshot Crummond was to the detective genre, a vehicle to poke fun at every trope ever written.

Everything is as far over the top as possible, from the gore to the raunchy jokes to the gratuitous profanity. Even one of the songs has a title and chorus which prominently features the "f" word.

All is performed by our locally grown thespians with all the ridiculous enthusiasm and robust absurd abandon you might expect from a group of very talented actors given leave to ham it up in a zombie vaudeville.

This is a very adult show. The venue itself requires identification to prove that you are 18 or older just to get in, as liquor is served on the premises. Although nothing explicit is seen, there are a lot of sexual gestures and references as well as a lot of blasphemous profanity. Those extremes are deliberately gratuitous as part of the parodic elements of the comedy.

The show is not for everyone, but if you could enjoy a combination of Rocky Horror Picture Show with Shaun of the Dead, while keeping the other above cautions in mind, then head out for our local production of the hit play Evil Dead the Musical. Having a chance to see these very nice, seemingly normal people portray these extremely bizarre parts is reason enough to go support the efforts of this troupe. Black Market Theatre has obviously put in an enormous amount of effort to bring this play to Lake Charles. And if we want to see more off-beat and unusual productions come to Lake Charles then, if you are of the right temperament and age group, you should go support the Black Market Theatre's foray.

A final warning, this is a public venue that allows smoking and when I got home I had to wash every stitch I had on, from my sweater to my pony-tail holder. So be advised, if you have any respiratory problems, this could be a serious health issue for you.

So KUDOS! to the Black Market Theatre Group (connect with them by clicking their name) for daring to put on such a boldly different production and thanks to Center Stage for being good sports and agreeing to host this venture. I look forward to future adventurous collaborations at this newest addition to Lake Charles' theatre venues put on by this newest Lake Charles theatre company.

JUST SO'S YOU KNOW:

As a point of interest, Evil Dead hit the cult circuit in the 80s as a breakout movie for Bruce Campbell. Anyone interested in this genre might find a similarly avant-garde film starring the same Bruce Campbell which both parodies the mummy movie concept and does legitimate respectful homage to, of all people, Elvis Presley. The movie is Bubba Ho-Tep and is of the same rough cloth somewhat bawdy and gory comedy. However, it is set in a nursing home, and respects the limitations of its indigenous characters. Bubba Ho-Tep might be described as the mild flavor version to the Evil Dead "slap your mama"-style spicy horror movie. Bubba Ho-Tep actually even has a certain gentle charm and intelligent theme to it about growing old without growing insignificant; and God finding a purpose for you even when you no longer believe you have one yourself. Heady stuff for the same guy whose iconic earlier character features a chainsaw replacement for a hand.

THE TEENAGER PROJECT: MYTHBUSTING ADOLESCENCE – A BOLD THEATER EXPERIMENT

To paraphrase Dumbledore from the first Harry Potter movie, it takes courage to reveal your innermost secrets to your friends, but it takes even more courage to reveal them to strangers for the benefit of others. And this is what the young people in the play The Teenager Project: Mythbusting Adolescence do. A distillation from personal and third-party real life experiences of young people from 12 to 21 years of age, The Teenager Project bares its soul to its audience in painful and sincere expose. The authors are the performers with contributions from the director, Charles McNeely, who, for the purposes of this play wryly self-describes as a "58 year old former adolescent".

Mr. McNeely points out these are experiences to which we can all relate, either from first hand or from stories we've heard.

The premise of the play is to bring into the open the personal crises, angst, anxieties, doubts, fears, and conflicts which happen to the average child as they transition from adolescence to adulthood.

They creatively approach the topic from a variety of scenarios, as: a courtroom drama, a research lab, a therapist office, and a variety of interactions with parents in disciplinary situations. One of the most amusing scenarios was one of the "how to and not to" discipline, as perceived from the teens' POV. Based upon the reactions of the young actors who we met after the play, I believe the young people were surprised by the approving laughter from and relatability the parents in the audience had to, the tough-talking mother to her wayward son.  I suspect the stern mom was supposed to be the "how NOT to" from the kids' point of view. However, the adults in the audience recognized the wisdom and constructivity of the stricter more disciplinary approach. So, as the teens sought to inform us, through the  wisely intentional interactiveness of the play, the teens found themselves learning as well.

This disjunct between what the actors expected and what they got in the adult audience reaction was a charming example to me of the genuineness of the young writers' efforts to convey the dis-communication between the parental authority figure and the child. This becomes especially keen when one considers that, aside from the judiciously limited input from the adult director, the play was primarily written by children who have no parental experience. In short, the adults in the audience have been both sides of that fence. The young people have not but have honestly opened their hearts and minds to let us know what they are thinking and feeling.

 

This play is for everyone. Aside from a few inappropriate uses of the name of God as an interjection, although not as a profanity, there is no bad language. There is no inappropriate sexuality and no violence. I would note though that as the topic would be of little interest to the very young, they might get restless and bored, though there is nothing in the play that the young should not see.

 

My only concern with the content is that there was too little emphasis on theological solutions and not much by way of the adult perspective. It seems as though the instinctive response of the young people was to resort to secular therapy. None went to seek guidance, specifically, from a priest or pastor or rabbi.

 

As to the lack of adult perspective though, as these experiences were gleaned directly from youth age 12 to 21, I cannot fault the lack of adult input.

 

The play did clearly display the inherent and natural inclination of youth of that age to perceive the world as revolving around them without the understanding that a broader, more altruistic worldview, and an adherence to a more God centered life might go far in a way to resolving many of their issues.

 

The director, Charles McNeely, innovatively chose what he terms a "devised" style of writing, which is not a script, but written in almost vignette form from real life experiences and based upon topics which the writers / actors thought important. With that insight, it occurs to me that The Teenager Project could be First Act in a broader scoped "Human" Project Trilogy. In this First Act they have creatively and thoroughly presented us with the problem. Perhaps a Second Act could present the adults' point of view to the same scenarios. And the Third Act could be a collaborative effort to achieve some resolution, solutions, understanding, communication and perhaps at least a detante between the two "warring" generational  factions.

 

Having seen this bold and fresh approach, I very much  look forward to seeing what the talented and insightful Mr. McNeely has in store for us in the future with his gifted troupe of young actor/writers.

 

The ensemble cast of actors each play many different parts including: (presumably) themselves, teachers, parents, therapists, and other adults, as well as representating their peers. The cast includes: Evan Seago, Peyton Stanford, Jennifer Tolbert, Himshree Neupane, Hannah Jolivette, Romm Silwal, Supratik Regmi, Marilyn Wright, and Jack Snyder.

 

The play is showing at the Sherman Fine Arts Theatre on the McNeese Campus through this Sunday, March 24th. 7:30 evening performances and at 2 pm Sunday matinee. Tickets can be purchased online here