Originally posted to EVIL DEAD THE MUSICAL site 10/9/13 – You’ll be seeing a lot of these archival posts from my days with EVIL DEAD to make sure they don’t get lost in case the original site goes down. Plus it is a bit of fun to stroll down memory lane…
On Friday October 13, 2011 at 8pm, EVIL DEAD THE MUSICAL opened at the Onyx Theatre in Las Vegas and the city has never been the same since!
With a cast of nearly 30 people, the show exploded out of the gate and hasn’t looked back since…until now.
We’ve been on the Strip since June of 2012, but our premiere was 2 years ago this coming Sunday. In honor of the date, we’ve decided to share some pics from that first production as well as share some stories with you!
We wanted audiences to be immersed as soon as they walked into the building, so the lobby of the Onyx Theatre was themed to match the show. We had cobwebs everywhere, fog machines were blasting away, and there were misdirecting signs in the middle of the area. To add to the intensity, the hallway leading into the venue itself was full of fog, the lights were dim, and thick walls of trees surrounded it on either side.
The stage at the Onyx is a pretty decent size, but is relatively small when compared to the stage we are on now. Because we had so many entrances and exits and scene changes, we had to decide what to do to accommodate all these things in one space.
What was decided on was a primary set that consisted of the cabin. The color? Gray. Why? Because the blood looks so much better against it. That has been the color of our cabin since those days, and will likely remain so. While brown might look nicer, gray slips into the background easier, it looks dingier, and when the bright red blood hits it, it looks AWESOME!
The cabin itself had 2 large windows as well as tree branches that created a semi-canopy over it to give the feeling that the woods were closing in.
Some nights, branches would fall down and the woods really would be closing in!
Along with the cabin were 4 walls on wheels that were brought in and out to signify the cellar and the woods. On one side of each of these rolling walls were thick tree branches and the like attached to them. These looked great for the woods scenes, but were horrible to get on and off. Some nights the branches would catch on various stage pieces or actors or get caught under the wheels and a myriad of noises, squeals, and curses could be heard in the dark as the walls were moved around. They were a lot of fun – and also a pain in the ass.
There were 98 seats in the Onyx Theatre, and technically only 97 because one of the seats was broken. While the first 2 rows were sold as the Splatter Zone, there wasn’t a safe seat in the house. The Splatter Zone were given t-shirts, as they are today at the show, and the rest were sold ponchos (which we always ran out of). Because the seating was so small the entire venue became the Splatter Zone, which was great for those back row hecklers who thought they were safe!
The show had almost 30 people in it, with over a dozen deadites who would storm the stage for an epic undead battle with Ash at the climax of the story.
The show contained seasoned actors, fans of EVIL DEAD, fans of zombies, dancers, singers, and just about any other sort of person you could imagine. The single goal was to tell the best story imaginable, and everyone put their heart into the production.
Since that first run of the show many performers have come and gone, but several still remain. Ben Stobber plays Ash as he always has, Lorie Palkow plays Cheryl (though she played Shelly in the original run), Kolton Rostron plays a variety of roles, and Shawnnie Slaughter is a Deadite.
The main crew has been the same since day 1 – Sirc Michaels is the emcee as well as the director and producer, Kat Winston is the stage manager, Tim Burris is the set designer, and Stephen Halford designed the makeup and costumes.
5 Fun facts about the cast
1. 3 people studied the role of Ash, 2 have played him, and only 1 has been the official Ash since the start of the run.
2. Lorie Palkow originated the role of Shelly and switched to the role of Cheryl back in January of 2012 for the second run of the show at the Onyx, making her the only original cast member to have played multiple roles before the show moved to the Strip.
3. The character of “Fuck You Don” was created for our show for our very real photographer Don Norris. While there can be only 1 true Fuck You Don, at least 7 people have played the role of Don at the show.
4. Each Deadite designed his or her own character, costume, to give the show a sense of the undead having come from all walks of life.
5. Ed in the first run of the show was played by Michael Kimm, who also starred as the title character in Sirc Michaels’ Las Vegas staging of DR. HORRIBLE’S SING-ALONG BLOG.
For the Onyx Theatre run of the show, extensive makeup and prosthetics were used for the Deadites. This meant it could take up to 20 minutes per person to get their makeup on and settled, and there were around 20 of them. So, about 3 hours before show time, actors would start arriving at the venue to get ready. They were brought in in shifts so as not to overwhelm the makeup artists who were on-hand to get everyone ready.
Even the crew got in on the act, with each person who was visible to the public being given an undead makeover before the show ever started. This policy stretched from the emcee to the techs in the booth.
THE TUTU STORY
Before the show opened, many people were dismissing it as insignificant. Those who were working on it knew there was something special, but the big show of that season, if word on the street was correct, was going to be SWEENEY TODD. EVIL DEAD might be a novelty, but it would be a flash in the pan.
The cast were excited as opening night approached, and predictions of sold out houses started being bandied about amongst the actors.
Sirc Michaels (aka Chris Palkow) felt all of this speaking of sold out crowds could jinx them. So, in an effort to combat this and the potential letdown if the reaction from audiences was mixed, he stated “If we sell out even 80% of our shows, I’ll come to the final performance in nothing but a tutu!”
And the show did indeed sell. Not only 80%, but 100%. And it’s been running strong ever since!
SWEENEY TODD came and went, and EVIL DEAD has remained a Las Vegas staple production, which just goes to show there is no safe way to predict what will work and what won’t.
And the tutu? Well, here a pic taken backstage of closing night of the original run of the show. As Sirc (aka Chris Palkow) says, “If you promise something, you better damn well deliver on it!”
EVIL DEAD TODAY
The success of the Onyx runs of the show created the opportunity for EVIL DEAD to move to bigger and better thing. In June of 2012 it became the first show in Las Vegas history to move from the local level to the Strip.
Now, of course, the show enjoys a strong following on the Las Vegas Strip. We’ve entertained tens of thousands of fans, our Splatter Zone is nearly the size of what our entire audience used to be, and we do a lot more appearances on television and around town.
Ultimately, though, we are still that same team who started out in the Onyx, trying to make people laugh by being ridiculous and spraying them with blood.
…some things never change!
Thanks for spending some time with us, and we hope to see you at the show very soon!!
Hey guys! Chris Palkow aka Sirc Michaels here. I wanted to reiterate that this is NOT my original story, but it IS something I give a crap about! I hope you find it informative and interesting! Leave your comments and share!