Five months ago, I got a phone call from Mark Carter, Artistic Director of Down Stage Right Productions. I’d previously done publicity for his production of Bullshot Crummond last year. Mark had just gotten the rights to a new show that he was very excited to be producing: Evil Dead: The Musical.
Now, I’m not much of a horror fan, so it didn’t really mean much to me, but he told me that it was very much in the style of The Rocky Horror Show, which I love, so I thought it would probably be good. I read the script and loved it. It is a really fun, irreverant, and campy. And people were excited about it, even though we had done zero advertising or press. It appeared to have the same kind of cult following as Rocky did.
And then we found out that Samuel French had granted the rights to the show to another theatre company, running almost exactly the same dates. We were shocked: how could this possibly happen? Turns out, Mark was granted the amateur rights, and the other company was allowed to have the professional rights. So, now there is going to be two productions of Evil Dead: The Musical running in Vancouver this Hallowe’en.
The problem is, the production that I am working on has a much smaller budget. My fee is about 80% of their marketing budget. The other guys have already placed a $4500 full-page ad in the Georgia Straight. I don’t need to tell you, we can’t compete with that. It’s like David and Goliath, in terms of budgets.
What to do? We very likely could be crushed. And this is a production that is fully funded out-of-pocket, with no government funding.
Were we mad? Hell, yeah. Frustrated? For sure. How could something like this happen? This is serious business–we could be bankrupted. Should we cancel? Change our dates? But we had already signed contracts and made expensive deposits for the theatre and the rights, so no matter what, we were going to loose money.
At the end of the day, we decided just to carry on. It’s our hope that Vancouver is a big enough town to be able to manage two productions of Evil Dead: The Musical.
Here’s what Mark has to say about the whole thing:
Dear Friends and supporters of DSR Productions,
By now most people are aware that there are two productions of Evil Dead The Musical playing in Vancouver this October.
As the director and producer of one of those productions, I would encourage people to see both productions, as I am sure they will see two very unique shows.
I would like to take a few minutes to tell you about some of the differences our production has to offer.
Firstly, we have an amazing cast of local professional actors who have been seen recently Vancouver productions of Les Miserables, Songs for a New World and Thoroughly Modern Millie. Scott Walters, who plays Ash, just finished a two-year run of We Will Rock You in Toronto and Meghan Gardiner (Annie/Shelly) has been touring internationally in her one-woman show Dissolve. Many of this cast will be going on to the highly anticipated local productions of Bat Boy the Musical, (also at the Norman Rothstein Theatre) as well as Thoroughly Modern Millie at the Gateway Theatre.
We are fortunate to have international choreographer Ken Overbey with us as well as musical director Sylvia Zaradic leading a LIVE BAND only in this Vancouver Production!
Our Designers and production team are all local professionals. Many of them work primarily with The Arts Club Theatre. In addition, other-behind- the-scenes people include Tanja Dixon-Warren from Vancouver’s longest running show Tony N’ Tina’s Wedding, and Rebecca Coleman a publicist who works with numerous local theatre companies.
The Norman Rothstein housed sold out performances of our 2000 production of The Rocky Horror Show, so we are thrilled to return to such a beautiful intimate theatre that totally ROCKS at HALLOWEEN! Enjoy a beer or glass of wine at our concession before the show or at intermission.
Above all, Evil Dead the Musical is one of the most enjoyable experiences you will have at the Theatre at Halloween: take advantage of it! As audience members you have the luxury of seeing two different versions of the same hit musical! One locally grown, the other imported.
Please show your support for local Talent – and help keep the Arts Alive in Vancouver.
Read the story in today’s Courier by Cheryl Rossi.
I’d love to hear what you think about this situation. Have you ever heard of something like this happening before? How did it turn out? What would you do if you were in my shoes?