There is life to Evil Dead: The Musical.
The show, adapted from the film for the stage by four Queen’s University grads in 2002, wrapped up its third Toronto run this winter.
And one of its co-creators, Christopher Bond, a Bedford Park native, is rueful of its (temporary) end.
It’s a tale of five college kids who travel to a cabin in the woods for a weekend of fun. Little to their knowledge, they unleash evil and it’s up to the main protagonist, Ash, to save the day.
“To write a show, and to direct a show with people who are locals — all Torontonians — and to have it on in your backyard … to see it close, it stings,” Bond revealed in a conversation inside a St. Lawrence Market area cafe. “In the city, friends and family and neighbours, and just people you know in the community, go and see the show.
“It’s special. It means something.”
Bond co-created the show with Frank Cipolla, Melissa Morris and George Reinblatt, who also grew up in North Toronto and attended Crescent School.
And like the show’s antagonists, the Deadites, it will resurrect itself.
Though Bond doesn’t fully disclose the plans, he says a U.S. run is in the works for this year.
“We have a lot of cities in the U.S. and Canada that want to see Evil Dead and have put in offers to have the show come to town, so 2014 is going to be exciting,” Bond said, noting there’s talk of even more international shows.
Not bad for a boy from Bedford Park, Bond says, a wry grin unfurling itself.
Bond is ebullient about the show’s success. He says he never thought a stage adaptation of the famous horror series, directed by Sam Raimi and starring actor Bruce Campbell, would be a success.
It was just something he did “for a job” when fresh out of college.
“It’s crazy to watch something that you and a bunch of friends put together play in a bunch of different languages,” he said with a laugh. “You don’t understand what the hell they’re saying, but people seem to be having a good time.”
It’s because Evil Dead has a “huge underground following” that they did the show in the first place, he adds.
“Poof: Jokes and blood and boobs! And there you go, that’s us. We put it all out there and people really responded to it.”
It’s become one of Canada’s most successful exports, putting on shows at Off-Broadway venues in New York, in Las Vegas, and in countries like Spain and even North Korea for more than a decade.
Its first live performance, at the Tranzac Club on Bloor Street, was on the night of the Northeast Blackout of 2003.
The cast and crew took it to the streets.
“We really turned that frown upside down and made the best out of a bad situation,” he said. “I had my Jeep parked on the curb with my headlights on — those were the lights.
“It was nuts. We just pulled pieces of the set off the stage from the theatre and put them on the street.”
Evil Dead is not the only zombie-related project Bond has been working on.
He jokes that he and his current writing partner-in-crime, Trevor Martin, are Toronto’s zombie guys.
The two have collaborated on the feature film A Little Bit Zombie, distributed by Anchor Bay, and have worked together on the 2013 stage show Night of the Living Dead Live, with zombie legend George A. Romero.
But Bond doesn’t forgot his roots, and biggest success, which he admits is the toughest stage production out there.
“Evil Dead is not your average musical,” he said. “It’s hard (to put on).
“When you see Cats you think dancing and Spandex. When you see Avenue Q you think puppets. Evil Dead has everything: puppets, dancing, blood, effects, fights, fancy choreo, breakables. [Cast and crew] say if you can put on Evil Dead: The Musical, you can put on anything.”