Quantcast Ryan Ward interview - EVIL DEAD: THE MUSICAL

Actor
Ryan Ward!!!
Icons readers, you are in for a treat!!! Anyone that's a fan of the EVIL DEAD series is well aware that there is now a musical version of the Evil Dead films currently playing at the New World Stages in New York City. Well, we got to speak with the NEW ASH himself, actor RYAN WARD from EVIL DEAD: THE MUSCIAL!!! We talked to Ryan about his acting career and what it's like to step into the role of the legendary ASH! A FRIGHT exclusive, read on for one of Ryan's first on-line interviews!!! - by Robg. 12/06

What are your earliest recollections of the horror genre? Do you remember the first films that scared or had an impact on you when you were younger?

I can remember the first film that really scared me, it was ALIEN. My friend’s dad had rented ALIEN. I must’ve been about 8 and I watched that and it terrified me. I think when I was about 11 or 12, I saw Stephen King’s IT with Tim Curry and I was terrified of drains for a while. (laughs) Those are the two big ones. There were a couple of episode from Alfred Hitchcock too. Remember that show he had?
Yes!

Couple of those scared me. There was one I think called ‘Buried Alive’? This guy was trying to escape from prison and he gets buried alive. That terrified me.

Can you tell us a bit about how you got involved with acting? I know you’ve done some work in film, but did you initially start out in stage productions? How did it all begin for you?
Well, you know, I did it as a kid, and then I kind of forgot about it in high school. I played sports so it became a conflict of interest. I got made fun of, and I stopped going to drama classes to do sports. Then, I took a drama class to fulfill an English requirement in my first year at the University of Manitoba in Canada where I’m from. And I realized this is what I wanted to do. I had forgotten about this (acting). I proceeded to get in a bunch of plays that year with a theatre that was involved with the University. The next year, I applied to theatre schools in Toronto to become a professional actor. I got into one called Ryerson University in Toronto. Every year that I was there, I wrote my own musicals and I would tour them on the festival circuit. My third year there, I auditioned for Evil Dead: The Musical and got into that. The original incarnation of Evil Dead: The Musical in Canada.

Right. When you auditioned for it, were you a fan of, or familiar with the original EVIL DEAD films?

Yea, I was a fan. I saw it on an audition board, and I went thinking it’s probably just a bunch of Evil Dead nerds that loved the movies and wanted to put on a play. I kind of thought it would be bad! But I thought whatever. I like Evil Dead, so I’m sure it’ll be totally fun to do. So, I auditioned for it. I did the “Boomstick” monologue. And after I did it, Chris Bond, the director jumped up and screamed “Yeah!” (laughs) I guess I was the only guy that had come in and knew how that was supposed to be delivered.

What were your initial reactions to the idea of someone converting the EVIL DEAD films into a musical? At first, it sounds ridiculous, but the more you think about it, it’s actually quite brilliant! At what point did you take it seriously?

Again, I thought it was going to suck. (laughs) Until the day we went to Chris Bond’s house – the director. And we read the script with the cast. We sat around and read the full script and he kind of painted the picture of how they thought they were going to do it. He’d say, “Ok in this part, he’s going to chop his own hand off, and from underneath the counter, we’re going to have a blood sprayer and we’re going to slap his face with blood. Now, he’s going bob his head up, & while he’s singing, he’s going to get mouthfuls of blood.”
As soon as I started hearing that, I started thinking “Man, this is actually really good.” (laughs) “This is really going to be something.” And then as soon as we put it on for the first time, and I figured out how the crowd was going to react to this, we knew from there it was special. I was not surprised that it was put on again and again. And that it got bigger and bigger until it got here. (to New York) It just seemed like a very special show.


When you and the cast read thru the original script, were the songs written too? Or was that later on?

No, they had all the songs. But some of the songs had changed. Or they realized “Man this song sucks.” (laughs) So they changed them. You know what I mean? “Good Old Reliable Jake” was totally different in the first incarnation (of Evil Dead: The Musical). It was more of a ho-down? It wasn’t like Meat Loaf or whatever it is now.

We didn’t get much of a laugh in Montreal. The guy who played Jake there, they developed that song with him, making Jake a bigger guy. Because originally Jake was a thin guy. And then, they decided to make him a bigger guy and go more for a ‘Meat Loaf’ sound. And that kind of solidified how he sounded. The ending song now is “You Blew That Bitch Away”, but it used to be “Hail To The King” before Universal told us we couldn’t musical-ize any lines from Army Of Darkness. Even in the original “Hail To The King” song, they had Ash rapping! And I said, “Guys. No way. I can’t do this! It’s not going to work!” (laughs)

How much preparation went into the original Canadian production? How long did it take to put the show together and how long did it run for?

It only ran for two weeks. But we took about 2 months to rehearse it. It wasn’t a normal play situation where we’d rehearse everyday. We’d set up and rehearse around our spare time and work schedules.

Was the crowd overly positive during that first 2 week run in Montreal?

Oh, it was bananas!
Yea. I had thought of driving up there! I’m so glad you came to New York with the show!

Yea, well that’s what a lot of people did! If you thought about driving up, imagine how many actually did! We had people flying in from Paris! (laughs) It was crazy. People came from Germany. People would show up in limos and stuff like that. We had a small club in Toronto that MAYBE seated 200 people? People had to stand. It was standing room only. You couldn’t even get a ticket to this thing. There were lines around the block. People would get turned away. And it was sad! Because people would wait for 2 or 3 hours. We had to turn people away. We couldn’t supply the demand. It was pretty crazy. That was one way that we really knew it was going to be popular.

You’re the only cast member from the original show to come out for the New York performances to play the role of Ash. What’s that been like from your perspective? And what are the biggest differences so far from doing the show in Canada and now New York?

The difference here is – Well, in Canada it was 90% Deadites. Or even 100%, all the time. It was always people that were big fans of the movie that would come and see it. They would seek it out and find it. But here, in NY, it’s 50% Deadites and 50% of your average theatre goer, because the theatre going population is so big here. It’s different. Sometimes we have nights where the crowd is not reacting to it? I don’t know how they were reacting when you saw it, but sometimes it’s so loud that you can’t hear anything!

The night I went was definitely in a crowd full of fans. It was very loud and energetic!

Yea, I mean... some night we’ll get that. But some nights we’ll have a very reserved crowd. We always have people in the crowd yelling out the lines, or laughing at the jokes. So we can tell who knows the movies and who are big fans.

The character of Ash has had so many memorable and quotable lines in all 3 Evil Dead films. During the performance I caught, I heard audience members saying aloud several of Ash’s famous lines with you. What’s it like to say these words that carry so much weight? Especially amongst Evil Dead fans.

It’s cool! It’s kind of a unique show that way, when you say your lines, people are waiting for you to say them, so they can recite them along with you! It’s a very unique theatre experience. Where you can do that and the crowd can participate that way. It’s a pretty cool thing about the show and one of the things that makes it very unique is that there is that element of audience participation. You CAN talk to us, and we can talk back. And you can say our lines along with us. The only thing that sucks is when people say my lines before I say them! I hate that! (laughs) It kills the impact!

Anybody reading this – don’t say Ash’s lines before Ryan can!

Haha. Yea, it should be in the program. We had a couple of times where I’d start to say something, and somebody would finish it before I could finish saying it, and everyone in the crowd is like “Awww!” (laughs)
Bruce Campbell came out for the first few nights of the show here in New York. Had you ever met him before? And what was his feedback in regards to the show?

I met him briefly at a book signing in LA and I saw him and told him, “Hey man. I play Ash in Evil Dead: The Musical.” And he said, “Oh yea? Well, which one?” And I said, “The one that’s going to New York.” He’d say (unenthusiastically) “Oh yea. Cool. Cool.” So, I was like “Are you going to come see it?”
And he said “Yea. If it’s in New York on Broadway, I’ll see it. Otherwise, I won’t.” (laughs) He didn’t give a damn. But I think he helped them get the rights to the play? Meeting him was cool. When he came to the show, it was really cool. He was such a nice guy. He was swapping stories with me about how getting sprayed with blood went for him, when he was in the Evil Dead movies with Sam Raimi. He’d tell me how Sam would torture him, and stuff like that. He felt that I was being adequately tortured by the creators of this show. (laughs)
Have you heard any feedback from Sam Raimi or any of the other people involved in the original film?

Only Tom Sullivan, the original FX guy on Evil Dead. I’ve met him, and he loves the show. He actually came to every incarnation of the show. He’s given us feedback, and even done cameos in a few of the shows. We tried to get Bruce Campbell to cameo but he wouldn’t do it…

Egh. I think he’s done with Evil Dead.

Hey, I don’t blame him. The stigma that is involved with being Ash for life. You know?

Funny you mention that. Something dawned on me while watching the show. For a long time I was nervous about the idea of anyone other then Bruce Campbell playing the role of Ash. But after seeing your performance (which you nailed), I realized that Ash is beyond what Bruce did with him. He’s a pop culture icon. He’s what Van Helsing was to Dracula. And much like Van Helsing, that character will probably go on to be played by dozens of actor’s for years to come. Would you agree with that? What’s your view on Ash, the character?
I think you’re right. I think he is an icon. Ash is an icon. He’s a horror superhero. Everybody who knows horror movies knows who Ash is. That’s huge. So, I can see that. If Evil Dead is successful and keeps going for years and moves to different cities – I’m not going to be able to play Ash every time. So, a lot of people are going to play him. I don’t know what else they’re going to do with him. They’re talking about an Evil Dead remake that Bruce was going to direct, but again, somebody else is going to play Ash. But I can see that. He’s a cultural icon, and with years going by and more people doing Evil Dead – especially now with this musical and people knowing about it, the icon-dom of Ash gets bigger and bigger.

If they ever got around to making another EVIL DEAD movie, weather it be sequel, remake, or whatever – and you were asked… would you take on the role of Ash for the big screen?

Uhhh… YEA! (laughs) Of course. That’d be a big opportunity, man. But it remains to be seen. I don’t know if a no-name theatre guy is going to get asked to play an icon in a film. Something tells me they’re going to go for some kind of star power…

Hopefully not Aston Kutcher!

Aston Kutcher. That would suck ass! (laughs)


Speaking of films, you wrote and directed two short films, Rebirth and The Fighter with your company Reborn Films. Can you tell us a bit about how Reborn got started? And are you looking to get back to some more film work after this productions’ run?

How’d it get started? In Canada, sometimes there is a real dearth of work for actors. Especially for stuff that you really want to do. There’s a lot of regional theatres and stuff like that. You can go do ‘ Oklahoma!’ in the sticks. In the city, there is film work, but sometimes it’s not so great. The parts for actors are small. American productions bring all their stuff there, and then they hire all the small parts with Canadians. A lot of people in Canada will create their own work and do their own stuff. I just wanted to do stuff that I wanted to make and that I wanted to see. So, I started my own film company. That’s actually one of my goals in life actually, when Evil Dead is over and later in my career, I’d like to create my own work and direct my own films and act in my own stuff.
It’s a bigger goal. I’ve actually got a feature I’m trying to get off the ground. I’m working with a producer in Canada on that. It’s called ‘Sunshine’. It’s about a guy who has tourette’s syndrome, but with his tourette’s he has divine ability that can heal people from dying. He has an experimental surgery to remove his tourette’s and it takes away his gift at the same time. It’s about him finding what’s most important to him. It’s a goal of mine to be a filmmaker later in life. And acting, but acting in my own stuff. I love theatre, but I’d like to do film.

You’ve developed a few of your own theatre productions too, right?

I have. Yea, I did a couple of my own musicals.

Do you have a background in music also? Did you ever play in a band or anything, or is it just from performing in the theatre?

Yea, I used to play in some bands. I played guitar for about 13 years and I used to play in bands. I played in about 3 different bands, and then I got into theatre and quit playing. I was always very musical. I always wanted to still play music. Again, it started out as a thing for me wanting to be creative, and realizing I wanted to make my own stuff. But yea, I had my own theater company and film company.

How long is Evil Dead: The Musical playing in New York for?

It’s open ended. As long as people keep coming, they’re going to keep putting it on.

Excellent! And what would you like to say to say all the Evil Dead fans that have yet to see the show?

I’ll say what I always say… I challenge you NOT to have a good time. It’s a pretty unique experience. Where else can you go and see people getting sprayed with blood, get sprayed with blood yourself, and also have a crowd that’s going crazy & bananas yelling lines. Where else can you go and drink in the theatre? (laughs)

That’s true. (laughs) I second that and I challenge people too!

- by Robg. 11/06


Special Thanks to Jen Cipolla!

Visit: www.EvilDeadTheMusical.com & www.MySpace.com/EvilDeadTheMusical &
www.RebornFilms.com & www.MySpace.com/RebornFilms

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