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Kanawha Players hope for a monster hit with 'Evil Dead' musical

Lawrence Pierce
Terry Lanham, channeling Bruce Campbell's Ash, threatens to cut down a demon-possessed Cheryl, played by Kate Tabor, in the Kanawha Players' production of "Evil Dead: The Musical." Based on the cult classic film series, the production opens Friday.
WANT TO GO?"Evil Dead: The Musical"Presented by Kanawha PlayersWHERE: Kanawha Players Theater, 309 Beauregard St.WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Oct. 12-13TICKETS: Adults $16, students and children $10INFO: 304-343-7529 or CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Kanawha Players believe they may have a hit on their hands with "Evil Dead: The Musical." At least, director Ginger Workman is hopeful the blood-soaked, song-and-dance-filled show about five college students who accidentally unleash unspeakable terror at an abandoned cabin will give the group a boost."We've already sold more tickets than we've sold for most of the other shows we've done over the last two or three years," she said. The show kicks off the Kanawha Players 91st season Friday at the Kanawha Players Theater on the East End. Workman said the play, written by George Reinblatt, was cobbled together from all three of director Sam Raimi's "Evil Dead" films. The horror/comedy cult classics involve demons, the undead, time travel and lots of bizarre mayhem."Basically, they put this thing together, and it ended up being this off-Broadway show," she said. "It's kind of taken the world by storm. A production was even staged in Korea."Workman said doing the production was mostly her idea. She found the play and presented it to the Board of Directors (of which she is a member). They embraced it enthusiastically, and casting, Workman said, was pretty easy."We got a great response. We had new people come out. We had people who hadn't been in a production in almost 10 years."Terry Lanham, who plays Ash, the resourceful but over-the-top hero of the show, is one of them. The 36-year-old medical claims adjustor said his last time on stage was 17 years ago, when he was in high school.
"But I couldn't pass this up," he said. "I'm a huge fan. I've got all three of the movies, and I probably do an Evil Dead marathon about once a month at my house."
Workman said Lanham impressed her with a full-sized oil painting of Ash he has hanging in his home."My sister is going to Art Institute," Lanham said. "I commissioned it for 50 dollars and a 'Firefly' box set."   There's a dark fun atmosphere to the production, but Workman said they're taking it very seriously.She said, "You can go campy with the show or go professional. We went more professional. There's a lot of dance in our play. There are blood cannons. There's a lot of blood rigging. Our chainsaw is rigged to shoot blood."The musical contains so much blood that the first three rows are designated as a splatter zone for audience members who don't mind getting a little (or potentially a lot) of fake blood on them."People are going crazy asking about that," Workman said.
She added that aside from the stage blood and gore, the show has plenty of foul language and so is recommended for those age 16 and older."If parents want to bring kids younger than that, they'll have to sign a waiver."Hopes are high for this production, which unfortunately, is a one-shot deal. The musical uses up the entire trilogy of films, so there are no sequels."But I am thinking about doing 'Night of the Living Dead' next year," Workman said. "Everything with that is done in black and white. You actually paint your actors to look like they're in a black-and-white movie."Meanwhile, the Kanawha Players next production will be "A Christmas Story," directed by Tara Pauley, on Nov. 29-30 and Dec. 1-2.It will not require a splatter zone.Reach Bill Lynch at or 304-348-5195.
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