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The Black Box of Dead, Evil Musicals 

A Thrilling October with CTC and 2nd Street

Cascades Theatrical Company and 2nd Street Theater are both trying something interesting over the next few weeks. Both theaters are trying something familiar in different and unexpected ways with CTC starting up this season's first Black Box production and 2nd Street launching its fifth iteration of Evil Dead: The Musical. In each case, the experiment is a success.

A Night of One-Acts

CTC's Black Box productions are always shows that could never play during the main stage season, either because the scripts are darker and edgier or, as is the case here, the shows are a wee bit too short.

A Night of One-Acts includes six one-act plays, ranging from 10-25 minutes long, with a locally-written world premiere in the mix. The shows include:

Sure Thing by David Ives: A hilarious and thoughtful meditation on how the use of language shapes our encounters in ways too numerous to mention.

Fried Eggs by Benjamin Emory Larson: An elegant gut punch of a piece about a married couple who have suffered silently long enough and decide to enact their own brand of justice.

Thanksgiving by Michael Slade: Two women meet in a hospital in a lovely piece that walks the line harmoniously between heartbreak and comedy.

A Rustle of Wings by Linda Eisenstein: An enigmatic and abstract piece about the magic in humanity and the humanity of magic. Almost impossible to describe unless one of the words is "impressionistic."

Birdbath by Leonard Melfi: A most uncomfortable boy- meets-girl story in a way that will have audiences talking long after they leave the theater. Uncompromising and intense.

Sundance by M.Z. Ribalow: Wild Bill and Jesse James sit in a bar and talk about the morals of murder. Darkly funny and fascinating in the way only good theater can be.

Overall, it's a powerful and exciting night of theater that should be experienced by anyone looking to broaden their palate into the more adventurous side of the performing arts.

A Night of One-Acts

Thursday, Oct. 15-Sunday, Oct. 18

Thursday-Saturday 7:30 pm, Sunday 2pm

Cascades Theatrical Company

148 NW Greenwood Ave.

$12-$15

Return of the Dead

Evil Dead: The Musical returns for the fifth time with an almost all-new cast and a few new surprises for the folks who have seen 2nd Street Theater's earlier incarnations of the show. The musical takes the plots from the first two Evil Dead films, mashes in the sense of humor from Army of Darkness, and pours on gallons of blood for the horror fans in the audience.

For those unfamiliar with the show, the story follows Ash, his girlfriend, his sister, his best friend, and some girl he just met as they head to a cabin in the woods for a little sexy R&R. After an unfortunate reading of Necronomicon (Book of the Dead), they accidentally summon The Deadites, a very unfriendly variety of demon that possesses his friends and swallows some souls. Brutally hilarious violence and musical theater hijinks unfold.

What makes this new version of the show so wonderful is the new energy brought in by Ryan Klontz as Ash, who takes Bruce Campbell's trademark swagger and makes it his own, while bringing a thunderously-powerful singing voice to the role in a way this four-time viewer hadn't seen before. Also, Stephanie Slade is wonderful as Cheryl, Ash's sister and Deadite victim. Slade's transformation from quiet, fearful, and passive Cheryl to horny, insane, and fearless Cheryl is nothing short of spectacular, with her knockout vocals making what is already an excellent performance close to perfection.

Even if one is not familiar with the films, aside from an in-joke or two, the show can be completely enjoyed on its own merits. The show's combination of slapstick physical comedy with incredibly catchy songs, buckets of blood, and a surprising amount of emotion make this version of Evil Dead: The Musical not to be missed.

Evil Dead: The Musical

October 16-31, 7:30pm, midnight on Halloween

2nd Street Theater

220 NE Lafayette Ave.

$19-$28

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