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'Evil Dead: The Musical' to open Corn Stock's winter season

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Ingrid Peelle loves Halloween. She and her husband Brian have hosted themed Halloween parties in the past and she has been known to start making her own costume many months ahead of time.

It would seem, then, she was the logical choice to direct "Evil Dead: The Musical," the opening show of Corn Stock Theatre's winter season.

"I do love Halloween, but I'm not so much into the gory horror movies. But this show is just so funny, including the bloody scenes, that it really isn't gory," Peelle said during a recent rehearsal at Corn Stock's Winter Playhouse. "I like to say the show is horribly funny. You will laugh, that's for sure."

The show opens Friday at 7:30 p.m., with additional shows at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, on Friday Oct. 11 and Saturday Oct. 12 and at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 13.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students. They can be reserved by calling (309) 676-2196.

There is no extra charge for sitting in the splatter zone, but Peelle recommends wearing old clothes if that's where you choose to sit. Those seats will be available first come, first served.

"The splatter zone is just that. It takes up just under a quarter of the house. If you sit there, you are almost guaranteed to be splattered with blood. We will have ponchos available, but I'd still not wear good clothes," she said. "Actually, if you want to get splattered we encourage you to wear a plain white T-shirt because it shows the blood better."

Several blood recipes were tested before one was chosen. The recipe being used, with credit to Dean Beever, is corn syrup, chocolate syrup, corn starch, Coffee Mate and water. Oh, and red food coloring. "It's edible, but it is sticky. We pre-treated the costumes and it will wash out. But still, don't wear your best clothes," Peelle said.

If the blood doesn't make you squirm, the makeup might. Remember, the characters become zombies and they are made up to reflect that as the show progresses. The makeup is headed by Kieth Wagner, assisted by Tanya Manning. "Everyone works well together. There are people putting on makeup under the stage while acting and singing is going on above them. The transformations on stage are fun. It was a lot to put together but it's gratifying to see it happen," Peelle said.

"Evil Dead: The Musical" will appeal to fans of the first three Evil Dead films. The musical, Peelle said, is a loose compilation of those films. "It is really, really campy, as you might expect. It is based loosely on the first three movies and it almost makes a plot that makes sense," she said, laughing.

"This show will probably make you cringe at times and you are not supposed to like some of the characters. And it is so inappropriate in so many ways," she added.

The show is rated 'R' and Peelle cautioned against bringing children because of the adult language, the violence and the sexual content.

The cast of 10 includes Corn Stock and area community theatre veterans as well as several newcomers. They are Cree Sullivan as Ash, Jarod Hazzard as Scott, Shannon Orrill as Cheryl, Jessica King in the dual role of Shelly/Annie, Andrea Walker as Linda, Alex Larson as Jake, and Joel Shoemaker as Ed/Moose.

The living evil trees are portrayed by Nathan Apodaca, Andrew Schoepke and Jay Williams.

Don't count on knowing any of the songs, Peelle said. "If you don't know the show already you're not going to know the songs. And I can't even say the song titles for a family publication," she said.

There are a lot of special effects that she hopes will surprise audience members. They all were made special by friends and family as this show has a small budget. It has one sponsor, ACME Comics.

The set and special effects may be the star of the show, in fact. Heading up the crew has been Brian Peelle, who is also listed as the "Blood Delivery Specialist." Also, he and Chris Franken built the set, which is one of the more elaborate one will find at the Winter Playhouse.

The lighting effects are by Megan Larke and the props leader is Jennifer Whitmore. Joanne Dowell did the costumes and Adam Windish was the musical director for the live band.

"I could not have picked a more tech-heavy show for my directing debut," said Peelle, a veteran actor, singer and dancer in many area shows. "And there is no way I could have done it without my friends and family."

Peelle arranged to give back to the community, as well. On Saturday, Sept. 21 she and her cast and crew hosted a blood drive at the Winter Playhouse. Almost all the slots were filled. "It was a fun way to promote 'Evil Dead: The Musical' and help others in the community," she said.

The Winter Playhouse season will continue with "The Graduate," directed by Chip Joyce, on Nov. 1, 2, 8, 9 and 10. That will be followed by "Relatively Speaking," a weekend of three one-act plays directed by Blake Stubbs, Leaann Liesse and Gary Hale, on Nov. 21, 22, 23 and 24.

"A Piece of My Heart," directed by Amy Williams, will take the stage Jan. 17, 18, 24, 25 and 26. "Art," directed by Charlie Brown, will be Feb. 14, 15, 21, 22 and 23.

"Superior Donuts," directed by Alex Larson, will close the winter season on March 14, 15, 21, 22 and 23.

Season tickets for the winter season are on sale for $50 and can be purchased by calling the box office at (309) 676-2196.

About the Author
Paul Gordon is the editor of The Peorian after spending 29 years of indentured servitude at the Peoria Journal Star. He’s an award-winning writer, raconteur and song-and-dance man. He also went to a high school whose team name is the Alices (that’s Vincennes Lincoln High School in Indiana; you can look it up).