Thursday, June 19, 2014
Evil Dead News Exclusive: Interview with Sirc Michaels (Director/Producer of Evil Dead: The Musical in Las Vegas)
In 2003, Evil Dead: The Musical was first performed on stage at the Tranzac club in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Since then, there have been over 150 productions of the musical staged throughout the United States and all over the world. On June 22, 2012, Sirc Michaels Productions brought Evil Dead: The Musical to the Las Vegas Strip as a resident, open-ended production at the V Theater. This weekend marks the 2nd anniversary of Evil Dead: The Musical on the Las Vegas Strip. To commemorate this milestone, Evil Dead News recently conducted an interview with the Director/Producer of Evil Dead: The Musical in Las Vegas, Sirc Michaels.
Before Evil Dead: The Musical, you directed and produced The Rocky Horror Show all around the country. What is it about live horror productions that makes them so intriguing?
There is a thrill in seeing someone covered in blood onstage while another person has a wound that is spewing more blood all over the audience. I find it funny, like the rabbit scene in Holy Grail. Or the black knight scene from Holy Grail. There's so much gore that it becomes a comedy routine. I love seeing people laughing and giggling at arterial sprays.
I'm also not a fan of social hangups. I feel anything and everything in life is up for grabs and lampooning, and horror is the perfect vehicle to do it in. I've got a bit of a hedonistic attitude about life, and that's reflected in the shows I do.
How did you first become interested in Evil Dead: The Musical? Had you read about the show's success in Toronto and off-Broadway and thought it would do well in Las Vegas?
EVIL DEAD is the perfect party show. You can drink, laugh, cheer, be rowdy, and have a great time and for the most part no one will mess with you. That also describes Las Vegas. It just seemed like the perfect sort of show for this city. The fact that no one had done it yet blew my mind when I got to Las Vegas.
The musical was originally presented at The Onyx Theatre. How did your current venue, The V Theater at Planet Hollywood Las Vegas, enter into the picture?
We looked at a lot of casino venues when we first started shopping the shows around. For many of the rooms in Las Vegas at the time, the only concern is getting people to buy drinks and keeping the show short enough to get them back out and gambling. 70 - 85 minutes of something polite that the entire family could go to and not be offensive was what most casinos and venues were looking for.
I had a full length show that sprayed blood over the audience and was riddled with foul language. It was a tough sell.
The V Theater, however, is not owned by a casino. It is independently owned by David Saxe, and he understood the insanity of what we were attempting to do and thought it was a perfect fit for his venue. Being on the Strip in Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino is the right fit for this show.
How does your production in Las Vegas differ from other Evil Dead: The Musical productions? Specifically, can you explain the 4-D aspect of the show?
The performers break the 4th wall. In other words, you aren't just watching a show onstage. You become a part of it. The actors speak directly to the audience. There is a lot of "making it up on the spot" going on, along with the regular performance. In addition, we have about 20 gallons of fresh warm blood that we spray over the crowd in the "Splatter Zone" every night. We don't allow ponchos, though we do give out commemorative white t-shirts to those willing to pony up and brave the bloodiest seats in the house.
We have fans who have come to the show upwards of 50 or more times. We have regulars who come from all over the world to join us over and over again. This has been called a combination of Rocky Horror, Scooby-Doo, and Gwar, and I think that is probably about right. It is that magic chemistry that turns first-timers into fans and keeps them coming back for more.
What types of people attend the show? Are many of them Evil Dead/horror fans? Do you have any crazy guest stories?
Our fans are a real mix of people. We see everything from people who have never seen EVIL DEAD or heard of Bruce Campbell to the diehard Bruce Campbell fans who have him tattoed on their bodies. Little old grandmothers to toddlers, gore fans to prudes, people know exactly what they are getting into to the unsuspecting first-timers dragged to the show by their friends or family, we've seen it all.
Regardless of who is at the show, we work very hard to make sure that each and every person has the very best experience we can give to them. We don't want to just put on a good show. We create an entire experience for the people coming out. From Deadite ushers to crazy pre-show and intermission diversions to S-Mart where fans can shop after the show, we do our best to immerse people into the world with us.
Everything we do is to entertain and in the spirit of fun. That translates into every aspect of our production, from the show itself to the ushers to our social media outreach, to even how we advertise the show.
As for a crazy fan story, there are too many to count! We've had people pass out from all the blood, we've had couples getting married at the show, we had people get engaged onstage at the show, and on and on and on.
This question alone could be an article unto itself!
Does your show change? For instance, do you do anything special or different during the Halloween season?
Yes, we're adding different touches to the show all the time to keep it fresh. We love holidays or special events as we do our best to incorporate those things into the show. In addition, every performance is different. Fans shout different things, the characters react and respond in different ways, and we are constantly making little changes to the show so the regulars will have new stuff to see. If you saw the show a month ago and come back, it'll be different. That's why people have been so many times. They love the music and the story and each time they experience it, it's like seeing it for the first time.
Ben Stobber, who plays Ash in your production, recently won Best Performance By A Lead Actor In A Musical (BroadwayWorld 2013 Awards). The show was also nominated in 5 categories last year. How does Ben's win and those nominations make you feel as the producer/director?
These nominations - and the win - are a victory because it was the fans who voted for us to win. We were nominated along with some of the biggest shows in Las Vegas history and to see Ben get the votes to win meant a great deal to all of us on the production.
People say things like "awards don't matter" and "I don't read reviews", but it is a lot easier to fill seats when you can say "We won this award" and "We got this excellent review" than it is when you have nothing like that on your side at all.
That's why at every show I strongly encourage all of our fans to review us on TripAdvisor if they liked the show and give us 5 stars. People who want to complain or be trolls will always make the effort, but a lot fewer people will take the time to write a positive review - even if they love something.
Bottom line - awards, positive reviews, word of mouth from our fans and from EVIL DEAD fans everywhere are what keep this show going.
Have Bruce Campbell, Sam Raimi or any other noteworthy celebrities come to see your show?
Actually, several people have been to the show. From all sorts of TV and film actors and comedians and stage actors to even some royalty. One night we had a Saudi royal buy almost all of the Splatter Zone so he and his small entourage could watch the show undisturbed. That was pretty cool..and crazy!
Bruce and Sam and a few of the other team members saw the show when it hit Off-Broadway. We are talking to Bruce about maybe doing something with him in 2015 but I can't go into any more detail than that. He is well aware of the show, what we are up to, and even spreads the word about us on his Twitter feed and his website.
The show has expanded to 5 nights a week and you have also added weddings as an option for your guests during intermission. As you may or may not know, Bruce Campbell is an ordained minster. Any chance we will be seeing him officiate a wedding soon?
We have our own Deadite Minister, with a glowing Book of the Dead and all sorts of awesomeness, and I wouldn't want to put him out of a job. But you never know what the future holds!
What's next for Sirc Michaels Productions? I read on your website, www.sircmichaels.com, Plan 9 from Outer Space, Christ Alive! and The TX Chainsaw Musical are all productions in the works. Is there an estimated time of arrival for these shows?
For now I am enjoying overseeing the growth of EVIL DEAD. The other projects are in various stages of development, but EVIL DEAD is the here and now.
For more info on Sirc Michaels and EVIL DEAD THE MUSICAL | Ultimate 4D Experience, visit these sites:
Posted by Evil Dead News Editor at 6:17 PM