If George Reinblatt weren’t so thirsty, he probably would never have written Evil Dead: The Musical, which is celebrating its 300th performance today.
Let Reinblatt, 31, the perpetual frat boy without a campus, tell the story himself.
“It was the summer of 2002,” he began, “and I went to see my buddy Chris Bond, who was performing in The Rocky Horror Show at a bar somewhere in Toronto.
“I was fascinated by the idea of people being allowed to drink in a theatre. I mean, it combined two of my favourite activities.”
So later that evening (“over more than a few brews,” in Reinblatt’s words) he and Bond decided to create a show of their own that – most importantly – would be presented in a venue that allowed the consumption of alcoholic beverages.
The next night, Reinblatt watched the 1981 movie The Evil Dead and called Bond, saying, “We have to do this!”
Next, he contacted the film’s creator, Sam Raimi, by now an A-list Hollywood director thanks to films such as Spider-Man.
“Surprisingly enough, Raimi gave me the rights from the start. It was all legal, but very limited. Later on, when we started to expand, the film company entered the picture and they kept us on a very short leash until they knew it was good.”
Together with fellow Queen’s University buds Frank Cipolla and Melissa Morris, Reinblatt and Bond wrote the show over the next year and had it ready to open at the Tranzac Club, on Brunswick Ave. (which, happily, was fully licensed) on Aug. 14, 2003.
If that date rings a bell, it’s because it was the night of the giant blackout, and only now, five years later, is Reinblatt willing to sheepishly admit that “I never even saw that performance. I was trapped all the way over on the other side of town.” What happened in the Annex, however, was amazing.
The cast and the audience poured into the street, lit the show with headlights, played it all acoustic and kept the evening going.
“It was that night,” Reinblatt chuckled, “that the Evil Dead buzz started.”
The run at the Tranzac sold out quickly and another was planned for October, which also played to packed houses. Then Just For Laughs brought it to Montreal in the summer of 2004, and it opened in New York on Nov. 1, 2006, got generally upbeat reviews and ran until Feb. 17, 2007.
Next it came back, to the Diesel Playhouse, where it remains.
As for the future, Reinblatt says he has a few ideas, but admits, “I’ve kind of grown to realize that no matter what I do, people might say, ‘It’s not as good as Evil Dead.’”
And they might not serve drinks at the theatre, either.