Zombies take over the stage in Night of the Living Dead
by Mina Frannea
Caught the opening night performance of Night of The Living Dead at Dallas Children’s Theater which features an all teen cast. The play is based on the 1968 low budget horror movie by George Romero and John Russo, adapted for the stage by Lori Allen Ohm.
The story opens with siblings Barbara (Bailey Thixton) and Johnny (Jude Hebert) going to the local cemetery to visit their father’s grave. Unbeknownst to the brother and sister, radiation fallout from a satellite is causing people to turn into flesh-eating zombies. After Johnny is bitten by a zombie in the process of saving Barbara, she runs away, ending up at a farm house. Still in a state of shock from her previous encounter, Barbara is further traumatized when Ben (Jacob Segoviano) forces his way into the farm house as he’s trying to get away from a mob of zombies. Ben manages to eventually calm Barbara then begins to barricade the doors and windows of the house to keep the zombies out. What the two characters don’t realize is that there are other people in the house who are hiding in the basement. The confusion and hysteria resulting from the apocalyptic event are palpable and well played out by the cast as the story unfolds.
The cast of teens and tweens did a nice job portraying older characters, including a married couple with a teen daughter of their own. Lots of great potential in this group of young actors. Cuatro Román and Manon McCollum really stood out with their respective performances as Sheriff Chief McClellan and the lady newscaster. These two young actors portrayed a natural and believable sense of urgency about the zombie apocalypse without seeming overly intense.
Bailey Thixton’s “Barbara” expressed a great range of emotions taking the audience through the journey of her personal ordeal. Chet Monday did a fine job playing a supportive and loving boyfriend as “Tom”. His scenes depicting a man conflicted by the need to act, yet keep his partner and the other people safe were well done too. The zombie make up, i.e. blood and gore was realistic, but not over the top and the setting for the farm house was well put together. I was a bit confused about the basement initially and thought it was just a hidden room. I would have liked to have seen more dialogue and interaction among the hidden characters while “Ben” was hammering wooden planks onto the doors and windows as the sound was a bit loud and the banging uncomfortably pronounced as a result. However, the air of suspense created by the sound-filled scene lent itself to the performance.
The cast of zombies were the highlight of the night as they mindlessly stumbled around the stage and surprised audience members by showing up amongst them periodically. Watch out for a few surprises from these living corpses. Also memorable were the special effects used to create the zombie like atmosphere in the theater during scene transitions. The representation of car headlights and a helicopter flying through the air felt very real.
Dallas Children’s Theater recommends Night of the Living Dead for ages 13 and up due to strong language and mature content. There are a couple of scenes where the characters engage in physical altercations, but I didn’t notice a lot of strong language except for one reference at the beginning of the show. The zombie scenes would likely be scary for younger children if they are not able to grasp the aura of campy humor this production has. My two sixth graders really enjoyed the show, their attention rarely wavering from the stage. Parents should use their discretion when determining the sensitivity of their children to the various elements of this show.
Post show meet and greets are a fun part of the whole experience at Dallas Children’s Theater. It’s an opportunity to talk to and take photos with the cast. I was pleased to learn that many of the young actors were either currently enrolled in or had taken acting classes through DCT Teen Conservatory.
My family enjoyed DCT’s production of Night of the Living Dead and the show is a great complement to the Halloween season. The show is playing through October 31st and tickets can be purchased online at dct.org or by calling the Dallas Children’s Theater box office at 214-740-0051.
Mina Frannea is an online media professional. She is the editor and social media manager at North Texas Kids Magazine as well as the Marketing and Public Relations Director for Actor Richard Hatch. Mina enjoys the Arts, Sci-Fi, new technology, cooking, enlightening discussions and sharing relevant information on her blog TheMomsJournal. Mina also provides PR services for conventions and other events.