Backstage Blood: an interview with Patrick Ciamacco about EVIL DEAD THE MUSICAL

Be prepared, Cleveland – the Dead are coming!

Blank Canvas Theatre is resurrecting a horror movie staple in the most spectacular live format: be prepared for EVIL DEAD The Musical. Running October 18 – November 2, the 90-minute production is based on Sam Raimi’s 80’s cult classic films and runs Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8pm, and Sundays at 7pm. There’s also a special midnight show October 26.

The gory but hilarious zombie-fest is directed by Patrick Ciamacco, with assistant direction by Kristin Netzband and musical direction by Matthew Dolan. It tells a tale as old as time: “Boy and friends take a weekend getaway at abandoned cabin, boy expects to get lucky, boy unleashes ancient evil spirit, friends turn into Candarian Demons, boy fights until dawn to survive.”

The main, anti-hero Evil Dead role of Ash was made famous in the films by actor Bruce Campbell. The blood for this musical version is being made famously by local effects gurus Ciamacco, Noah Hrbek, and PJ Toomey.

Need to know more? Of course you do! That’s why there’s an interview with Ciamacco about all of the cool, gruesome bits that are in store for this freakishly fun production.

Kate Klotzbach: So you, Noah, and PJ are part of the special effects team. What are each of you working on, specifically?

Patrick Ciamacco: All three of us are working on special effects, but I act as the lead special effects designer. I decide on the final products and what needs to be done. PJ’s main focus is on the actors’ masks that will transform them into Deadites. Noah handles sculpts/puppets of creatures like the Moose, the Necronomicon book, trees, etc. I handle all blood that is rigged on the stage or hits the audience.

While each of us have our specific tasks, many items cross over to different duties. Sometimes one person gets an item almost done, and then it is handed over to someone else to finish or adapt for another part of the process. An example of this is something like the Moose: it’s built by Noah, and then I have to make it work on the actual stage. Also, with so many effects and needs, all three of us are often triple teaming anything that still needs to be done. Separating things is just a good way to start the work, but once we get into tech week, it’s all hands (pun intended) on deck!

KK: Tell me a little bit about the mold and mask making process, including materials, time, basic how-to, etc.

PC: The first step is to get a hydrocal (cement) mold of the actor’s face or head. The beginning process of this is in our time-lapse video. It starts with alginate on the actor’s face (photos at end), and then we create a plaster shell around that alginate to give it strength. Next, hydrocal is poured into that to get a replica of the actor’s face. Then their Deadite look is sculpted on top of that. Next, another mold is made of the Deadite look. We then use the original actor mold and the new deadite mold to create silicon masks that perfectly fit the actor’s face, but [appear] more like the Deadite look we know from Evil Dead. CLICK HERE FOR TIME LAPSE VIDEO.

KK: Can I get an inside scoop on the blood process? Also – how can audience members get fake blood out of their clothes following the show?

PC: Blank Canvas Theatre has become known as Masters of Blood. Having produced more blood shows than most theaters in Cleveland combined, we have mastered our blood recipe over the years. While it is a secret, we can promise that it will wash out of your clothes after the show. We have to wash it out of our costumes each night, as well. So you are safe!

KK: How will you do the Ash-Disembodied-Damn-You-Hand bit?

PC: Luckily, Near West Theatre down the street just closed The Addams Family, and we were able to talk THING into extending his stay in Cleveland. All joking aside, it’s some slight of “hand” magic tricks and the audience members just using their imaginations to enjoy the moment.

KK: What are your plans for the MOOSE?!

PC: Luckily, Noah and I hand built the puppets for Avenue Q last season, so we used similar techniques to create a life-size moose head… that can sing and talk.

KK: Of course you did! By the way – should the whole audience expect to get splashed? Or are the blood effects just in a specific “zone”?

PC: Our SPLATTER ZONE is the first two rows of the audience on all three sides of the [auditorium]. If you sit outside those seats, you should be safe… save for a few drops here or there.

KK: What are your favorite things about this production? What idiosyncrasies about it are making you giddy this week?

PC: I have always been a fan of the movies, so being able to create the movie live on stage has been a blast. We’re super giddy about making it our own. Even if someone has seen a production of this show before, we can promise you will see things that you have never seen in the show before. It was our goal to make everything and do everything with the Blank Canvas flair that our audiences know us for.

KK: How are you using Blank Canvas’ small space to your advantage for this production?

PC: With our intimate 3/4 thrust stage, and the furthest seat away being 12 ft from the stage, it is going to really feel like you are in that cabin with the cast, which is fitting because 1/3 of the audience will be just as bloody as the cast!

KK: What show song(s) is/are stuck in your head right now?

PC: It’s very catchy… but we can’t stop singing “Cabin in the Woods.”

Make sure you get a chance to see Ash and all of the kids in the cabin as they battle the undead at Blank Canvas Theatre, located at 1305 West 78th Street, Suite 211, Cleveland, OH 44102. Tickets are $20, and several nights are already SOLD OUT! MORE INFO:

Becca Ciamacco (Shelly)
DeLee Cooper (Annie)
Jim Dove (Jake/Moose)
Eric Fancher (Ash)
Meg Martinez (Linda)
Kate Leigh Michalski (Cheryl)
Zach Palumbo (Ed)
Jordan Potter (Scott/Dr. Knowby)

Directed by Patrick Ciamacco
Music Direction by Matthew Dolan
Assistant Direction by Kristin Netzband
Assistant Music Direction by Anthony Trifiletti
Choreography by Katie Gibson
Stage Managed by Whitney Miller
Costume Design by Luke Scattergood
Special Effects Design by Patrick Ciamacco, Noah Hrbek, & PJ Toomey
Set Design by Patrick Ciamacco
Lighting Design by Patrick Ciamacco & Brad Hughes
Sound Design by Patrick Ciamacco & Anthony Newman
Sound Operation by Anthony Newman


Published by Kate Klotzbach

After writing for Examiner for 7 years, I brought my content to a new venue! Founded in June of 2016. I'm a Musical Theater graduate of Ohio Northern University and a long-time performer, arts lover and former stage manager. I spent 3 years touring the U.S. with VEE Corporation, and am a proud Cleveland Singing Angels alum. Lover of Cleveland, chocolate, coffee, dogs, scary movies, Cards Against Humanity and (of course) my awesome family. PLEASE BE SURE TO "FOLLOW" MY BLOG FOR ALL OF THE LATEST UPDATES AND POSTS!

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