Imagine the musical Grease, mix in a few of the undead, and add a message about tolerance and the power of true love. The result is a quirky little show called Zombie Prom, which will be performed this November at Bishop Ireton High School.
Both wacky and touching, Zombie Prom is a little-known production that has never been staged in the Washington, D.C. area before. Set in the 1950s, it tells the story of an outcast teenage boy named Jonny, who dies heartbroken in a nuclear waste dump. The strength of his love for his classmate, Toffee, brings him back from the dead as a zombie. He then tries to convince his sweetheart to go to the school prom with him, even though he is a rapidly decaying corpse.
In preparation for the show, the cast members have all gone through intensive character development. They have done everything from writing out their characters’ life histories to deciding what foods their characters like. Peter LaClede, who performs the role of Jonny, says that his favorite aspect of his character is “his bad boy attitude, while being a good kid beneath it all.” Playing the part of Toffee, Karen O’Connell believes that she shares a great deal in common with her character. “She is in high school and has a lot of the same concerns as I do, like getting into college.”
The complicated musical numbers of this almost entirely sung-through musical have also required lots of hard work on the part of the cast. Although the music may be difficult to learn, Daniel Boos, performing the role of Joey, hopes that the audience will appreciate the dedication that the cast has poured into perfecting their songs.
The stage crew is also busy getting ready for Zombie Prom. The set will employ a multipurpose back wall that will be variously embellished to suggest different locations within a 1950s high school. Notable features will include a painted skyline of nuclear power plant funnels to signify the nuclear city in which the school is located, and motorized turn tables will be used to rotate pieces of the set. The costumes will also reflect 1950s fashion. According to costume and makeup designer Cosima Storz, “One of the most challenging parts of the show is the makeup for the character Jonny. The character undergoes a fast change from his normal self to his zombie self. It all has to be done in a limited amount of time, and he has a lot of makeup that has to be put on.”
Zombie Prom is guaranteed to have something for everyone. Students can relate to the teenage characters as they try to deal with life and love. On the other hand, parents will probably get a kick out of the nostalgic feel of this show and its music.