URBANA — The cast and crew of "Evil Dead: The Musical," opening tonight at the Station Theatre, are having a bloody good time. Literally and figuratively.
The musical based on the "Evil Dead" movie franchise has blood effects, gallons of it, at every show, according to Michael Steen, who plays the lead character of Ash.
"It's an ensemble show, but yes, I am the man, the hero," he said before a rehearsal Monday night.
Ash is one of five college students who spend spring break at a cabin in the woods, a horror-movie trope. The ringleader, Ash takes charge after bloody hell breaks loose at the vacation home.
"All of my friends become possessed, one by one, and it's my duty to hack them into pieces with a chain saw, axe and a 12-gauge double-barrel Remington shotgun," Steen said.
The veteran community theater actor gives props to Niccole Powers, who's in charge of props. Steen said he bought a prop chain saw online and she took it apart, rewired it and made it a more fabulous tool.
She's also in charge of the gallons of blood sprayed upon cast members, mostly Steen. The Celebration Company will designate certain areas of their small house as "splatter zones," where braver audience members may choose to sit.
Steen warns theatergoers, though, not to wear their best clothes to this rock musical, said to be the next "Rocky Horror Picture Show."
Not to worry, though. The special-effects blood is made of laundry detergent and other things and washes out of clothes really well, said Steen and other cast and crew members who should know.
Cast member Christopher Terrell Brown, an incoming senior theater major at the University of Illinois, described the blood as almost another character. Mikel Matthews Jr., who directs, said, "No. 1, it's slippery, and No. 2, it's actually complicated to use."
Some people who attended the off-Broadway production of "Evil Dead: The Musical" — it opened in New York in 2006, after premiering in 2003 in Canada — wore white T-shirts and sat in the "splatter zone," the first three rows of the house. They took their T-shirts home as souvenirs — after having cast members sign them.
Mikel said the Celebration Company will sell for a nominal fee T-shirts emblazoned with the show logo.
Brown called "Evil Dead: The Musical" "ridiculousness upon ridiculousness" but said he's having fun with it: "It's like having a crazy party with your best friends every night."
And Matthews said people who don't know the musical but know the three "Evil Dead" movies, written and directed by Sam Raimi, (the last was titled "Army of Darkness") will "definitely" enjoy the musical, which draws dialogue mainly from the second and third films.
"Even if people haven't seen the movies the musical is a great time," Matthews said. "It's fun to have blood sprayed all over you."
The rock musical is not sung-through, as was the recent rock musical "Next to Normal" at the Station. A small rock band led by Tommy Howie provides the accompaniment for "Evil Dead"; the music direction is by Aaron Kaplan.
Besides Steen and Brown, other cast members are Aaron Clark, Mark Fox, Madeline Knight-Dixon, Laura Anne Welle, Ellen Fred and Malia Andrus.
The two-act musical runs for 1 hour 40 minutes, with intermission.
If you go
What: Celebration Company presents "Evil Dead: The Musical," with book and lyrics by George Reinblatt and music by Frank Cipolla, Christopher Bond, Melissa Morris and Reinblatt; directed by Mikel Matthews Jr., with music direction by Aaron Kaplan and choreography by Whitney Havice
When: 8 p.m. today through Sunday; July 3-7; July 10-13
Where: Station Theatre, 223 N. Broadway Ave., U
Tickets: $10 on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays; $15 on Fridays and Saturday (discount of $1 available upon request for students with ID and senior citizens older than 61)
Information: 384-4000; http://www.stationtheatre.com