Chainsaw Serenade

EC Children’s Theatre has gruesome, grown-up fun with Evil Dead: The Musical

Tom Giffey, photos by Andrea Paulseth |

A LITTLE NIGHT READING. Jason Lyn stars as Ash, the chainsaw-wielding hero of the Eau Claire Children’s Theatre production of Evil Dead: The Musical.
A LITTLE NIGHT READING. Jason Lyn stars as Ash, the chainsaw-wielding hero of the Eau Claire Children’s Theatre production of Evil Dead: The Musical.

The title alone should be enough to clue you in on the fact that Evil Dead: The Musical isn’t a typical Eau Claire Children’s Theatre production. There are no fairy princesses or little mermaids, no Fancy Nancys or Flat Stanleys. The focus here isn’t cheerful kids’ stuff, it’s horror – pure, blood-curdling, R-rated horror.

OK, that’s not strictly true: Yes, you should definitely leave the kids at home for the evening (the theater isn’t even offering youth-priced tickets for this one). But if you’re the kind of adult prone to hiding behind the couch when a Tales from the Crypt rerun comes on, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by Evil Dead, which takes the camp factor of the original B-movie series and launches it into the stratosphere (or should that be the depths of Hell?) with the help of a rock musical score. In short, there is more humor than horror in this stage mashup of director Sam Raimi’s cinematic trilogy.

“I don’t know when we’ve laughed so much in rehearsals.” – director Wayne Marek on the campy fun of Evil Dead: The Musical

Don’t expect realistic gruesomeness, explains director Wayne Marek. “It’s more like a Monty Python skit,” he says. (Or, if you prefer a more musical reference, there’s a certain Rocky Horror Picture Show vibe.) However, because of the subject matter and strong language, Marek says the musical carries an R rating.

Evil Dead: The Musical isn’t a total aberration for the Eau Claire Children’s Theatre. For the past few years, each spring the company has produced a more adult-themed show, Marek says. Last year, that was the sexually charged musical Cabaret.

For those who haven’t seen original 1981 film version of Evil Dead (or its sequels) starring Bruce Campbell as Ash, Marek offers this primer: “Five college students off to a deserted cabin in the woods for the weekend. What could possibly go wrong?” Well, for starters, they discover an ancient Book of the Dead, then unwittingly unleash demonic hordes. All manner of horrors ensue as the heroic Ash (performed here by Jason Lyn) wields his trusty chainsaw against the forces of darkness. Expect lots of splattering fake blood – so much, in fact, that the first two rows of the theater will be dubbed the “splatter zone,” and audience members will be provided with complimentary rain ponchos.

The musical premiered in Toronto in 2003, and since then it has been performed Off Broadway and has toured nationwide. (If you’re in Vegas, you can even catch the “Ultimate 4D Experience” of the musical.)

“If people are familiar with the movies, they’ll recognize some iconic lines and phrases,” Marek explains. However, having seen the films isn’t a prerequisite for appreciating the blood-soaked campiness. The cast certainly has enjoyed the process of bringing the undead tale to life, Marek says. “I don’t know when we’ve laughed so much in rehearsals,” he explains.

Considering the plot, many of the characters also will be laughing all the way to the grave – and beyond.

Evil Dead: The Musical • Thursday, May 12-Saturday, May 14, 7:30pm • $22 adult and senior, $12 student • The Oxford, 1814 N. Oxford Ave., Claire • (715) 839-8877 • •

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