Best Audience - 2011
Evil Dead: The Musical - Stray Dog Theatre at Tower Grove Abbey
2336 Tennessee Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63104
Evil Dead: The Musical is the theatrical equivalent of a deep-fried Twinkie. There's nothing artistically redeeming in it. It says nothing about the human condition. Even the love story, that staple of traditional musicals, is subverted and perverted and decapitated before the first act is over. And the full house that jammed Tower Grove Abbey for pretty much every night of the play's run couldn't have been happier about all of that. They were buzzing when the lights went down but quickly shut up so they could enjoy every instance of carnage and centiliter of fake blood that doused the stage. To a person, they were fans of the source material (Sam Raimi's classic Evil Dead films), but they easily accepted the limitations imposed by live performance and treated the actors with a great deal of respect despite the rowdy nature of the show. They laughed, they screamed and they wriggled appreciatively when Big Jake crawled through the first two rows, leaving a slug trail of fake blood and huge smiles in his passing. As loud and raucous as the show was, the young crowd refrained from chitchat, and even the scourge of the 21st century, the text message, never cast its baleful blue gaze up from the pews. There's nothing quite like being in the middle of an exuberant mass of people sharing the same experience, even (and maybe especially) when it's something as ridiculous as Evil Dead: The Musical.