The bloodier the better in Hard Bargain Players’ “Evil Dead: The Musical,” and just in time, as Halloween looms on the horizon.
But this particular musical is not for kids — there is profanity, not to mention murder and mayhem, in the gore-filled parody of the “The Evil Dead” movies of the 1980s.
“It’s all in good fun — you know it’s over the top,” said director Michael Margelos. “But not everything is for everyone.”
Presented at the Hard Bargain amphitheater in the woods in Accokeek, the evening performances will run for three weekends starting Friday and ending Oct. 19.
Seating is first-come, first-served; however, people can make a reservation in advance.
The first two rows will function as “the splatter zone,” i.e. within striking distance of spurts of blood from the stage, said Margelos.
Bring your own ponchos, or buy one at the theater for $2, and lest anyone worry, the red splatter washes out, he said.
“I love horror movies, I love Halloween, I love the fall,” said Margelos, a fan of the movies and the show who is clearly having fun directing it.
Two years ago, Hard Bargain Players presented the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” and it sold out, said Margelos, who is expecting this production to also do well.
The musical is about five college students from Michigan who go to an abandoned cabin in the woods during spring break.
Once inside, they uncover an ancient book called the Necronomicon.
“There’s an evil force attached to the book,” Margelos said. “The [students] are either possessed or attacked.”
“One of them hears a voice, doors fly open, the cellar door flies open. … At one point the trees come alive.”
In the meantime, the characters and demons dance and sing tunes that have a ’50s sound to them.
“It’s very catchy,” he said. “It has a kind of doo-wop kind of style.”
Despite the chaos, the hero Ash (played by Draper Carter) continues to do battle with the forces of evil.
“It’s over the top, campy … and ridiculous,” Margelos laughed.
The musical is based on the 1981 horror movie “The Evil Dead,” which was followed by “Evil Dead II” in 1987 and “Army of Darkness” in 1992. Written and directed by Sam Raimi, the series became a cult classic.
Next came the stage musical, a consolidation of the movies’ storylines, that debuted in Toronto in 2003 and opened off Broadway in New York in 2006.
“If you know the movie, you get a good chuckle from the lines [in the musical],” Margelos said.
Refusing to die, a rebooted “Evil Dead” film arrived this year, while a revival of the musical is due to open in Toronto next month followed by a North American tour.
But putting on the show isn’t cheap, Margelos said.
Like any musical, “Evil Dead” is expensive to produce. It costs more to buy the rights because there is also music.
This show also has more than its share of special effects.
“The action takes place in a cabin with doors that open and walls that move,” he said.
The cast also needs two sets of costumes — one set needs to soak to get the blood out, while the other set is being used on stage.
“The costumes also get ripped and have to be put back together,” Margelos said. “It takes a lot of money to give the show justice.”
To raise some extra funds, Hard Bargain Players organized a Kickstarter campaign setting a goal of $1,500. As of Sept. 26, the total pledged had risen to $1,660 from 31 backers.
Other contributions were also accepted, and the company showed its appreciation with an array of special gifts to donors depending on the amount donated.
Already spoken for, with a pledge of $200 or more, is the chainsaw from the show signed by the cast, according to the Kickstarter page.
A $1 pledge came with a promise “not to feed your soul to the deadites.”
For $50, contributors got a commemorative “Evil Dead: The Musical” T-shirt or poncho, to either absorb or repel spatter from the stage.
And for $150, donors got a walk-on role requiring 15 minutes of rehearsal before the show.
“We shoot them, and the blood goes everywhere,” Margelos said.