Blood-spattered 'Evil Dead: The Musical' at Detroit's City Theatre

Michael H. Hodges
The Detroit News

If there was ever a film series that didn't beg to be made into a musical, you'd think it'd be Sam Raimi's 1980s "Evil Dead" cult classics, but here we are.

"Evil Dead: The Musical" returns to Detroit's City Theatre Sept. 26-Nov. 2, for another campy romp through blood and gore and all-around lunacy. The Detroit News caught up with cast member David Schoen, a local actor who's returning for his 10th season, to talk character, comedy, decapitated heads and the Splatter Zone. 

David Schoen plays "good old reliable Jake" in "Evil Dead: The Musical," opening Sept. 26 at Detroit's City Theatre.

So you've actually done "Evil Dead: The Musical" 10 years running?

David Schoen: "This is my indeed my 10th year. I tell people I keep showing up and they don’t tell me to leave. That’s how I keep my spot."

Do you have fun?

"Yes. It's always a fun show to watch, but when the audience really gets into it, it's much more of a party. Halloween is on a Thursday this year, so we're hoping that will be a really great crowd. It's much more enjoyable for the actors when the audience is into it." 

Who do you play?

"I'm Jake, a guy a couple of the characters come across in Act I who lives out in the woods, and takes them to the cabin where terrible things have already started happening to the rest of the cast."

Tell me about Jake.

"Well, Jake is a big old, lovable coward. I've always thought of him as the character in the play who's easiest for audiences to relate to. In the horror genre, when other characters see something weird, they're intrigued and investigate. But Jake's reaction is, 'Are you kidding?'"

Have you seen the "Evil Dead" movies?

"Yes, many times. I'm considerably older than the rest of the cast, who play college kids. I was in the theater when the films were first released in the 1980s."

Just how old are you?

"I'm 50, but my character isn't age-specific. And the more seasons I sing my song, 'Good Old Reliable Jake,' the 'old' gets punched up more and more."

Just how much blood is involved in the production?

"We use a number of five-gallon buckets of stage blood, and go through them all. A couple of performers get drenched to the bone. Of course, we also try to get a lot of that onto the audience in the first six rows, the designated Splatter Zone."

And this is a comedy?

"Yes. The amount of blood in the show is way over the top. It just becomes ridiculous and funny -- far more funny than disturbing."

Is the audience warned about the blood?

"We have signs indicating where the Splatter Zone is, and we have a prerecorded announcement just before curtain that warns about the blood. And the fact that the first six rows are covered in plastic and duct tape is a pretty good giveaway. If the audience hasn't figured it out by then, I don't know what to do for them."

Is it hard to perform when you're wet with fake blood?

"Oh yeah. It can be uncomfortable. Plus, the stage gets so slick, we're never sure how the choreography will play out. You definitely have to use your core to keep yourself on your feet trying to dance."

Aside from "Good Old Reliable Jake," what's another song you like?

"One of my favorites that I sing is 'Ode to an Accidental Stabbing,' though you can't print a lot of the lyrics in a newspaper. But it's fun."

So about that decapitated head -- does it talk?

"Yeah. Its mouth moves. We use some stage trickery and misdirection and so forth. But I don't want to give away too much." 

After "Evil Dead," what's your next acting gig?

"Right after I finish with this, I'm playing 'A Christmas Carol' at the Meadow Brook Theatre. It’s both ends of the spectrum."

(313) 222-6021

Twitter: @mhodgesartguy 

'Evil Dead: The Musical'

Through Nov. 2 

City Theatre, Hockeytown Cafe, 2301 Woodward, Detroit

8 p.m. Thurs.-Sat.

$38.50 - general admission

(313) 471-3099 or