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Review: Musical of the Living Dead 

Tyler Gillespie enjoys the splatter scene of See ‘Em On Stage’s production at the Shadowbox Theatre

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Photo by kriss Hoffman

A young zombie girl rips intestines out of her mother, then licks a giant, multicolored lollipop. Minutes later, she eats her father and blood spurts into the front row seats. In the "splatter zone," a couple wearing ponchos is hit with the spray, and front row spectators are guaranteed to get splashed with gore during See 'Em On Stage's Musical of the Living Dead at The Shadowbox Theatre.

  On a foggy night, Barbra Flowers (Kali Russell) and her foul-mouthed brother Johnny (Edward Simon) visit the cemetery where their grandfather is buried. A zombie, who Barbra thinks is a harmless old man, bites Johnny and all hell breaks loose. After her brother is attacked, an unhinged Barbra babbles about Jesus and her prized music box. Russell's comedic timing is perfect, and her voice is one of the strongest in a talented cast. Simon plays several characters, and as Johnny-turned-zombie, he's menacing and charming.

  In an effort to save herself, Barbra runs into a house where she meets Ben Blackman (Averis Anderson), who boards up the windows before he realizes the Cooper family is hiding in the basement. Most of the action takes place in the house, where we meet characters that include three cousin-siblings and a TV reporter.

  Some may consider a few bits to be in poor taste, such as racially charged jokes about "Blackman." But zombies only have tastes for brains, and this show doesn't claim to offer clean fun. While the survivors dodge zombies, they cannot help but break into song. The book and lyrics by Marc Lewallen and Brad Younts feature catchy songs. Women sing about men they no longer love, and the men celebrate the weapons (pipes, guns) they love most. They all sing about sex. Married couple Harry (Kevin Murphy) and Helen (Andrea Watson) share a great number as they tango across the stage proclaiming their mutual hatred.

  As a parody and homage to George Romero's cult-classic zombie film Night of the Living Dead (1968), the show's looseness adds to its energy. Actors liberally squeezed bottles of red liquid to spray the audience. There were flimsy transitions, such as an actor holding up a sign saying "cemetery." There were technical difficulties, including a faulty projector, but these rough edges didn't slow the pace.

  There are no dull moments in director Christopher Bentivegna's musical. A show about zombies means most characters won't survive, and with all the blood splatter, the audience becomes part of the show. If irreverent humor and gore don't turn you off, Musical of the Living Dead is a diabolically enjoyable experience.


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