Magic and blood seem to be mixing well at the Willows Theatre By Kevin M. Thomas

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Michael Scott Wells, Meghan Ihle and Clare McNulty (btm)

The blood comes from its upcoming “Evil Dead” musical which will have its own blood splatter zone in which blood shoots out into the audience. And the magic is in the form of show director and Willows Artistic Director Eric Inman and his business and life partner David Faustina who together have brought the Willows Theatre Company back to life as they create magic onstage and off.

Inman has sort of grown with the Willows right before our eyes. It was just a few short years ago he played Lucy’s little brother in “Charlie Brown.”  Now he’s become a regular fixture on and off the stage in Willows productions, including directing the recent “Once on this Island,” which was the first production on the Willows’ main stage in a few years after the economy hit the theatre group hard.

But the hard work and hours that both Inman and Faustina have put in have brought new life to both the mainstage and the cabaret.

I was able to talk to Inman briefly as he ran from being an understudy who had to go on in “The Fantasticks” to a technical rehearsal for “Evil Dead” which starts Aug. 18. Perhaps Inman is a true lover of the theatre and follows the old song, “It’s nice work when you can get it.” And he seems to be getting it a lot with the Willows.

Maybe his dedication to the theatre is helped by being in a relationship with Faustina, whose star has also risen with the short time he’s been with the company. It seems just a few years ago he was the public relations and marketing associate. Now, as Managing Director, along with Inman seems to be running the show. And to great success.

Just last year, I had the privilege to be the media host of their first ever GLBT night with a fund raising performance of “Avenue Q.” It was good to see a GLBT audiences outside of San Francisco. “We’re planning another event soon,” says Inman, “but we’re deciding on what production would be best for such an event.”

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Willows Theatre: David Faustina and Artistic Dir. Eric Inman

Presently the company has two shows that couldn’t be more different. On the mainstage is “The Fantasticks” – a classic, old fashioned show that has songs that our grand parents grow up singing including “Try to Remember.” This is the perfect outing for seniors who want to see a show that has been around seemingly forever, and still playing off-Broadway in New York. It’s also a great first theatrical experience for a younger crowd who wants to see what a true classic is all about.

Then at the cabaret theatre in Martinez will be “Evil Dead,” the music spoof of the horror film series that has become a camp classic especially at the Willows as it’s the third time they’ve produced the show and “mostly with the same cast,” says Inman,

With “Evil Dead” not only, for a few extra dollars, can you sit in the spatter zone but you can also enjoy one of the Willows’ signature cocktails that always pay tribute to the show that’s on the stage. Inman says a favorite will be their Evil Tang. “It contains no Tang but is very fizzy and features a secret ingredient,” says Inman.

Inman says the food this time around will be of lighter fare as, from the past, the cocktail sales seems to be of greater interest to the audience.

Since “Evil” has become such a favorite among their patrons, Inman says he’s made enough changes to offer the show’s fans something fresh and kept a lot of what they’ve grown to love about the show so “they get the best of both worlds.” But no matter what, he said everyone will be in for “a bloody good time.”

“Evil Dead” in particular is selling very well, so you should get your tickets soon.

To get tickets for “Evil Dead’ or “The Fantasticks” and to see what else is coming up, go to www.willowstheatre.com.