New life for ‘Evil Dead’ as COVID restrictions ease

SaiSahasra Makamchenna, Staff writer

With the omicron surge waning and masks coming off soon, the Backstage Bruins are ready to debut “Evil Dead: The Musical,” their first stage musical in two years. As the lead character Ash would say: Groovy, baby.

The show debuts March 24, with showtimes on March 25,-26, as well as April 1.

The outlook was not so certain earlier this semester an increased number of chronic absences, which made it difficult to rehearse, especially with no understudies.

Cast members of “Evil Dead,” adapted from director Sam Raimi’s earlier horror-comedy series, were initially asked to sign a waiver to get COVID tests twice a week. By doing this, the show would get an opportunity to go unmasked if all tests come back negative, according to the district’s policy.

For now, cast members are required to use a singer’s mask on stage. However, other high schools in the area, such as Bellarmine College Preparatory, were able to recently perform their shows with maskless casts.

This year has already been a struggle on top of another with stricter guidelines, late rehearsals, frequent absences, and COVID-19 exposures. As COVID restrictions ease up, the show will go on.

Unlike the fall play “Twelve Angry Jurors,” Branham’s “Evil Dead” production won’t have any understudies or back-up cast members in case of absences or injuries.

Choir director Barbara West, who is leading vocal rehearsals, said having no understudies is always taking a big risk in any show for directors.

“Most of the parts are small enough that we can make it work,” West said, “But if (lead) Christian gets sick, I don’t know what we’re gonna do.”

The show has many romantic scenes and social distancing had presented a big challenge for performing them.

“It’s a lot harder to convey the characters’ relationships to each other when we have to be spaced out,” said junior Carissa Freimark.

Sophomore Christian Winzenread, the lead of the show said that he has never done a production without an understudy. Prior to Backstage Bruins, Winzenread performed for San Jose Children’s Musical Theater, which always has two or more casts for their shows.

“It’s a lot of responsibility,” he said. “It’s a lot to think about and it’s helping us really keep it in the headspace that we need to stay as safe as possible.”