In part one of our time with some of the cast of "Evil Dead the Musical", we were introduced to leading player Benjamin Stobber and Fake Shemp / Understudy, Kolton Rostron. In part two, the talent behind Ashley Williams' sister, Cheryl and the deranged mind behind the show itself step up to tell of their experiences working on the Strip and what "Evil Dead" is to them.
Lorie Palkow (Cheryl)
She may be the tiniest member of the “Evil Dead the Musical” cast, but that doesn’t stop Lorie Palkow from shining just the same. Playing Ash’s ill-fated sister, Lorie’s weekends consist of transforming from the nerdy Cheryl to a “pretty foul mouthed” demon in a matter of minutes. There’s far more to this cast member than what’s currently seen on stage, though, as her history in theater spans all the way back to Amarillo, TX, where she co-founded and co-owned the Avenue 10 theater.
What’s the attraction to “Evil Dead the Musical”? With previous roles in such shows as “Cannibal the Musical”, “Rocky Horror Show”, and “Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog”, this musical iteration of Sam Raimi’s cult classics surely doesn’t seem like that far of a jump - but what really pushed her in? “I’ve always been a big Sam Raimi, Ted Raimi, Rob Tapert, Bruce Campbell fan.” After a transfer brought her to Las Vegas - and away from a potential role in “Evil Dead the Musical” - Lorie worked through Sirc Michaels’ production of “Dr. Horrible” before being able to convince the director / producer to dive into the world of “Evil Dead”. “‘Dr. Horrible’ was the first thing we did [in Las Vegas], and that was something that we were super excited to be able to do; and than we were trying to come up with new ideas. Evil Dead was still something that was very close to my heart, and I just kind of told him I really wanted to do it.”
Playing two very different characters in one performance may be difficult for some, especially when the actor can really only relate to one. Despite an impressive performance as “Evil Dead’s” signature deadite, Lorie finds herself better acquainted with the more human iteration of Cheryl. “She’s nerdy, kind of smart, awkward; and that’s cool, because I think I was that way in school. I was never the cheerleader, I never dated the football player, I hung out with the band kids, and I see Cheryl being that way, wanting to fit in... I was a geeky kid.” Oddly enough, she’s never had the pleasure of being possessed by demons.
“Evil Dead the Musical” is Las Vegas’ latest craze, with the cast popping up all over town; but their newfound fame hasn’t blown up their egos yet. Regardless, there’s still the concern that fans are paying attention. “For me to think of myself as a celebrity is very odd. First off all, I don’t think of myself as that,” Lorie explains, “but I found there have been some small adjustments I’ve had to make. I have people that are actually paying attention to me now, so I feel like ‘maybe I shouldn’t say that’ or ‘maybe I shouldn’t Tweet that’.”
What has changed since “Evil Dead the Musical” hit the Strip? “I get more conscious when we have the opportunity to meet [famous people]. I don’t want to go up to them now and say ‘Oh, I think you’re amazing’.” Lori explains after telling a story of an admiring fan of the show following her into the bathroom. “It makes me think about when it happened to me.”
Sirc Michaels (Director / Producer)
The man behind the Las Vegas iteration of “Evil Dead the Musical” is a mystery. One day, he’s a mild mannered owner of his own production company; the next, he’s standing atop a stage spewing forth more profanities than the deadites that he directs do. How did we get to this point, though, where the man that brought “Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog” and “Rocky Horror Show” to Las Vegas is dousing the V Theater in gallons of blood? “I like Bruce Campbell - I’m not a diehard fan of the films - but he, for me, really made the movies. I produced [Evil Dead] in Texas. Knowing I’m not that big a fan of the films, I was a little resistant at first. I heard the music and, out of context, it doesn’t really work. I produced it anyway in Texas and it was fun and it was great, and once I saw it, it was way better than anything I had seen or researched,” Sirc explains, alluding to the Avenue 10 theater in Amarillo, TX.
“I came out here and was working with the theater company at the Onyx, but they were going to do [Evil Dead] in March and I told them ‘No, no. Push it to October’, it’s an October show; you do it at Halloween time. They’re a local theater and there’s nothing that gets done locally at Halloween time.” Sirc, already at the reigns as producer, took over when the original director dropped out. Was Sirc Michaels the director that the Las Vegas iteration of “Evil Dead the Musical” needed to thrive? His work with “The Rocky Horror Show” allowed him to visualize a completely different concept than what had already been presented off-broadway. “Everything is over acted, in some cases its badly acted, intentionally. We wanted it to be more like, here’s the show, [the cast] knows its campy and cheesy, [the audience] knows, so we’re all in on the joke together. So that’s where actors are able to break through the wall and kind of comment and things like that.”
After watching a performance of “Evil Dead the Musical”, it’s impossible to deny the amount of time and hard work that’s been put into it. Regardless of the blood and sweat that Sirc and his crew put into the show, no member of “Evil Dead” has denied the importance of the community in the success of the show. “The fans are the only reason we’ve been able to be here, so we do a lot of stuff in the community,” Sirc explains, “The local support for the show is strong; we have people that have seen it 10 times, for sure. We really are trying to figure out something to do for them.” Sirc’s appreciation for the fans that keep his production strong is unwavering, as will be seen in April when they launch a fan appreciation month. the production company has also been working on a loyalty program, though it’s still in a pre-planning stage.
Anyone that follows Sirc Michaels’ Productions may have seen the workings of two further excitable performances in the works. Stage productions of “Plan 9 from Outer Space” and “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” have both been in the planning stages, but as with any new concept, roadblocks-a-plenty have presented themselves. “I didn’t expect ‘Evil Dead’ to go quite the way it went, I was expecting the worst. So I was lining up “Texas Chainsaw”, and I still would love to [do it], but the problem is it is ‘Evil Dead’; it has a Splatter Zone and it’s the same kind of thing. Do I want to do another one, exactly the same kind of stuff - it has the Splatter Zone, it has the campy music.” Though a musical iteration of “Texas Chainsaw” may be put on hold in favor of the already established “Evil Dead” and its strong fan base, classical horror officianados may still get the chance to experience one of the worst movies ever made right on the main stage. “I really love the idea of doing ‘Plan 9’. We’d probably throw it in something downtown, like the little box office theater. It’s not a musical, it’s sort of an interactive show and on the Strip, most people don’t go to plays.”
“Plan 9 from Outer Space” may have been placed on Sirc’s back burner for a moment, but that’s only to allow for more time and effort to go into the production company’s current shows, “Evil Dead” and the ’80’s musical, “Legwarmers”. After a complete revamp, including musical set list and script, “Legwarmers” will be finding its way back onto the Strip in April. What of the future of “Dr. Horrible” and “Rocky Horror”? With the current workload on his plate (and issues with the rights to “Dr. Horrible’s” rights), it may be a while before either show returns to Vegas’ theatrical scene. “Honestly, I’d like to do ‘Dr. Horrible’ and ‘Rocky Horror’ again. I could see both of those working on the Strip, easily,” Sirc enthuses.
There’s no question as to the zeal that each cast and crew member as for “Evil Dead the Music”, which only serves to help solidify the performance as one of Sin City’s most prolific productions. Though only the future can tell, there is no doubt as to the continued success of this musical iteration of the cult classic horror series.